Are you Ready for Disaster?

Written By: Randi Black and Stephanie Larson
Published: May 12, 2021

Within Sonoma and Marin Counties, disaster has played an increasing role in our lives. Recently a California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA)- sponsored bill, AB 1103 was introduced by Assembly member Megan Dahle (R-Bieber). Assembly bill 1103 is aimed at facilitating livestock producers’ wildfire response efforts. Specially, the bill provides a statewide framework for counties to adopt an “Ag Pass” program.  Under this program, ranchers and framers receive training in fire behavior and emergency response protocols and upon enrollment in the county’s Ag Pass program, are permitted access to the farm or ranch during a wildfire or another emergency. Status of AB 1103:

Recently UC Cooperative Extension published, Preparing for Disaster: Establishing an Ag Pass Program in Your Community,” This publication outlines the county-based “Ag Pass” program in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The program identifies owner-operators of commercial farm and ranches, along with their employees, to firefighting personnel, California Highway Patrol officers, sheriff’s deputies, and other emergency personnel. A similar program for Butte County is being presented to the Region III and IV Cal Office of Emergency Services Mutual Aid Regional Advisory Committee. Having a statewide framework for Ag Pass programs can eliminate the potential for first responders to be unaware of a local Ag Pass program and mistakenly deny a cardholder’s access.   

In a similar effort to coordinate safe and efficient animal evacuation, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), Sonoma, collaborated with several County of Sonoma departments, local agencies, and private organizations for rapid deployment of services.  In the established “Ag Pass programs” – there’s a sponsoring agency. This agency can decide what is needed to qualify for an Ag Pass. One qualifier could the creation of a farm or emergency plan. Emergency plans would be specific to the people and property (ies) in question. The emergency plan could be simple; a map showing access to roads, water points, and refuges.  The plans could also be complex; a written document describing safety and evacuation protocols. The Ag Pass – sponsoring agency may choose to have the plans vetted by local fire authorities before they are put into action.

UCCE Sonoma developed a survey to guide agricultural producers through planning for evacuation or shelter in place; Disasters give you minutes, hours, or days to prepare, and this process will help you consider how to respond and where gaps in readiness exist.  After completing the preparedness survey, producers will receive a copy of their responses in the form of a plan that can be accessed on their property during an emergency. Additionally, commercial livestock and poultry producers can work with UCCE to develop a property map outlining vital land, water and power supplies, feed, access points, and other critical areas of interest. Completing these tools could assist farmers and ranchers in first steps of compliance for the Ag Pass program.

While this survey is designed for commercial livestock, dairy, and poultry producers, we welcome all livestock and poultry owners to use this tool to develop a preparedness plan for themselves. The survey offers an area for those that can provide shelter to evacuated livestock and poultry to include their information and be entered into a database for use during an emergency. It also provides the tools to help you prepare your workers for the next disaster. 

Randi Black; Stephanie Larson

UCCE Sonoma Workshops, Seminars & Events

For upcoming workshops visit:

Production Agricultural Water series 

This FREE series covers information on risks associated with production agricultural water, current best practices for ag water management, treatment options for ag water and updates on the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule ag water testing requirements.

Thursdays in May. 1-3pm via Zoom. Learn more and register

Virtual Eco-Friendly Garden Tour with Master Gardeners

The Eco-Friendly Garden Tour is a public outreach and education program that promotes sustainable landscaping practices by showcasing inspiring gardens throughout Sonoma and Marin counties.

May 15, 10am, via Zoom. Learn more and register

Agritourism & Direct Sales virtual workshop series: Best Practices in COVID Times and Beyond

Offered by UC Sustainable Ag Research & Education Program

3pm to 4pm each day, FREE!

May 3 Online sales options and methods

May 17 Creative marketing and staying connected with social media

May 24 Community collaboration – farm trails, tourism partners and more

Register at



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