Florida Agriculture Hoping for Federal Disaster Relief

Florida Agriculture Hoping for Federal Disaster Relief

citrus grove damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee

After Irma, this is a common sight in citrus groves across Florida. This was the scene at the UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.
Photo by Monica Ozores-Hampton

Knowing what’s at stake for Florida farmers if they don’t get the help needed after enduring a historic weather event, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has sent an urgent letter to the state’s congressional delegation requesting disaster relief for the sector, which suffered a major blow from Hurricane Irma — to the tune of more than $2.5 billion.

Here are several key passages from Putnam’s letter:

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“As you know Hurricane Irma, among the strongest hurricanes ever to make direct landfall in the United States, dealt a devastating blow to many sectors of Florida’s $120-billion-dollar agriculture industry.

“While members of our Florida delegation – under your leadership – worked tirelessly to include much-needed disaster assistance to help Florida’s agriculture industry in the face of mounting catastrophic losses, we were ultimately left out of the last aid package Congress considered. This omission was despite receiving commitments from leadership in both houses that our state would find relief in that round of funding.

“We all recognize that OMB’s (Office of Management and Budget) request is only the Administrations’ recommendation and that Congress, considering the advice of the OMB, will now create a relief package that is responsive to and reflective of the damage sustained by the industry. Nonetheless, I am alarmed by the apparent lack of concern shown by OMB towards the needs of agriculture in the aftermath of such a historic storm.

“Congressman Tom Rooney has crafted language that will enable the USDA to provide $1.5 billion in emergency disaster assistance to address the catastrophic crop losses producers suffered due to this storm. I am hopeful that the entire delegation will support its inclusion in the next disaster relief supplemental.

“I look forward to working with you to address this dire situation and stand ready to provide any additional information necessary to support our request.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.