Ask a Florida grower if Hurricane Irma was a disaster for them, and the likely response is emphatic one way or the other. While the cleanup process following a calamity is anything but pleasant, USDA’s official disaster declaration in the wake of Irma comes as welcome news for farmers seeking financial aid to rebuild, replant, and recover.
According to the declaration sent on behalf of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, there was enough evidence after reviewing damage assessment reports to designate 19 counties as a primary disaster area plus another 25 counties as contiguous disaster areas.
Primary counties include: Alachua, Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Gilchrist, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Osceola, Palm Beach, and Sumter
The declaration allows farmers and ranchers in these counties access to support from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.
Farmers impacted by the storm are encouraged to research FSA’s storm disaster resources.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam applauded the agency’s helping hand. “I thank U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for taking action to support Florida’s farmers and ranchers still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Irma,” he stated. “Our preliminary estimates peg the total damage at more than $2.5 billion, but it’s important to recognize that the damage is still unfolding.”