Jan 18, 2024
Hurricane Idalia disaster assistance available for Florida growers

Florida has launched two agricultural disaster recovery programs with more than $112 million in funding for farmers, ranchers and growers affected by Hurricane Idalia.

Idalia came ashore at Keaton Beach in Taylor County in Florida’s Gulf panhandle region August 2023 with 125 mph winds, causing nearly $450 million in damages to crops, livestock and agriculture infrastructure, according to Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson.

Affected producers can apply for the Agriculture and Aquaculture Producers Natural Disaster Recovery Loan Program and the Silviculture Recovery Program, announced Jan. 16. In October 2023, the Florida Legislature passed a bill providing funding for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to provide recovery programs.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson announces two new agricultural relief programs on Jan. 16. Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“Florida’s agriculture industry sustained widespread damage from Hurricane Idalia, and today’s launch of the Hurricane Idalia agriculture recovery programs — the first state-funded programs of their kind — is another important step to get our impacted producers back on their feet,” Simpson said during Tuesday’s announcement. “Florida’s farmers, ranchers and growers work day in, day out, rain or shine, to feed our state and nation, and I’m proud to stand with Florida’s leaders and once again demonstrate our steadfast support to these hardworking individuals.”

Jim Spratt, chair of the Florida Ag Coalition, said Idalia affected more than 3.3 million acres of Florida agricultural land, with commodities including row crops, timber, livestock, aquaculture, horticulture and dairies sustaining extensive damage.

The $75 million Agriculture and Aquaculture Producers Natural Disaster Recovery Loan Program will make low-interest or interest-free loans of up to $500,000 for eligible producers who experienced hurricane damage. Loans may up used to restore, repair or replace essential physical property including equipment, greenhouse, fences and other buildings or to remove vegetative debris.

Applications and eligibility information are available online.

The $37.5 million Silviculture Program will assist eligible landowners through cost-share grants in counties declared disaster areas with site preparation and tree planting activities. Grants will be up to 75% of the costs for site preparation and tree planting, with a maximum award of $250,000.

More information and applications are available online.

“Hurricane Idalia hit the heart of my district hard,” Sen. Corey Simon said. “I am thankful for these efforts to help in their recovery, which in turn helps the entire state of Florida by keeping agriculture thriving.”




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