Hurricane Irma did a significant amount of damage to Florida agriculture with few industries escaping damages of some kind. If it wasn’t damaging to ripening or new crops, it was damage to soil beds, water sources, or infrastructure. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is working to get relief for Florida farmers and ranchers from federal sources, but in the meantime, you may be able to find assistance for ag land damaged by Hurricane Irma through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). See details below.
ASSISTANCE FOR DAMAGED AG LAND THROUGH THE NRCS
The NRCS is a branch of the USDA that offers programs with funding to promote conservation practices throughout the U.S. The particular program for assistance with Hurricane Irma damages is through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. A special sign-up period has been enacted from November 28 through December 28. The program offers technical and financial assistance for using conservation practices that address resource issues resulting from flooding and wind damage from hurricanes. There is even assistance to make changes that will provide future protections from what the NRCS labels “exceptional storm events.”
Growers and producers in those counties with disaster declarations are eligible to sign up. In alphabetical order, they are: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, and Volusia.
Those seeking assistance, or looking for more information, should contact their local NRCS field office.
by Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts is the division manager of the Frostproof, Fla.-based Griffin Fertilizer Co. Roberts joined the company in November 2011. He has spent the majority of his career in the fertilizer/agchem industry. Roberts earned a Bachelor of Science degree in citrus production from Florida Southern College in Lakeland. He is currently the chairman of the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association. For more information, visit griffinfertilizer.com.