When natural disasters impact Florida growers, it’s good to know that we have advocates working to help us get federal aid. Crop Disaster Recovery, Inc. is one such organization, and their founder and CFO, Kimberly Lott, has some valuable information to share regarding disaster relief.
“H.R. bill 5305 was signed into law last September 30, and that bill allocated an additional $10 billion in funding to 2020 and 2021 disaster programs,” Lott says.
The majority of that funding will go into a revised WHIP (Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program), so coastal farmers who suffered crop losses due to tropical storms the last couple of years would see the greatest benefit from this program.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is overseeing another program that covers trees, bushes, vines, and shrubs, called the Tree Assistance Program. This program can cost-share growers 75 to 90 percent of the cost of replanting lost crops.
Citrus growers wishing to take advantage of these programs should contact Lott’s office or go directly through FSA before starting any replanting. It’s important that they not simply walk away from their groves because abandoned groves will not be covered. However, these programs allow up to two years to replant, so growers have time to consider if they want to convert to a different crop.
There are a lot of detailed eligibility requirements for these programs, so while it is possible for growers to do the paperwork themselves for FSA, going through a firm such as Crop Disaster Recovery can save time and frustration. Although they are a consultant firm, they also play the role of advocate for farmers, working with government agencies to increase agricultural assistance.
“We are trying to get a secretarial disaster declaration for the freeze that just happened a few weeks ago,” Lott explains. “If we can get that, we would be able to seek more funding. That’s something that if producers want to do on their own, they need to contact FSA and tell them what their losses are from that freeze, or they can contact us and we will do all of that on their behalf, and file congressional complaints for them to try to get the secretarial disaster declaration because if we can get that, there are a lot more programs that will come into play.”
For more information about FSA assistance, go to fsa.usda.gov.