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corner of content windowHurricane Ivan News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2004
CONTACT: Jacob Dipietre (850) 488-5394

Governor Bush Applauds Hurricane Agricultural Disaster
Assistance for Florida Producers

--USDA will provide Growers with $500 million in aid--

BARTOW – Governor Jeb Bush today thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for providing $500 million in hurricane disaster assistance for producers of citrus, fruits and vegetables and nursery crops. The aid, in response to President Bush’s Aug. 27 directive to USDA, will be available to growers in counties that have received a Presidential disaster declaration for Hurricanes Charley and Frances. USDA will make additional aid for counties impacted by Ivan available once the damage has been assessed.

“Our federal partners have been extremely responsive to the needs in our state on a variety of fronts, and I thank the USDA for its rapid response to put funds in the hands of farmers so they can get back on their feet,” said Governor Bush. “The relief provided today will go a long way in providing the critical emergency support, and I appreciate the willingness of USDA and Congress to ensure adequate funding for hurricane relief.”

The Governor announced that the state will provide $10 million in funds to help cover the shortfall in box taxes which goes to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) to promote Florida citrus and remind the market that Florida’s agriculture industry still offers the best produce and products in the country.

Other available assistance for hurricane victims includes the USDA disaster food stamp program for more than 15 of the hardest hit Florida counties; more than $54.9 million in replacement Food Stamp benefits issued to 300,000 families; more than 2.5 million pounds of USDA commodities valued at approximately $3 million; and $5 million in special funds for baby food and formula.

“President Bush is committed to providing relief to Floridians. We will use existing funds and authorities to quickly launch the Florida Hurricane Agricultural Disaster Assistance in an effort to help growers in their cleanup efforts and to compensate them for lost crops and trees.” Veneman said during the announcement here with Florida Governor Bush and Rep. Adam Putnam.

“We are now in the process of determining agricultural damages from Hurricane Ivan in Florida and other states, as well as damages to agricultural production beyond citrus, fruits and vegetables and nursery operations from Hurricanes Frances and Charley. We will continue to provide the same level of response to other hurricane-impacted agricultural sectors as our damage assessments are completed.”

To help address housing and infrastructure needs, Veneman announced that Tom Dorr, senior advisor for Rural Development issues, will be meeting with local, county and state government officials in Florida to assess needs and address such issues as housing for farm workers. Housing assistance has been provided for families displaced from USDA-sponsored housing.

Governor Bush joined USDA Secretary Anne Veneman, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson, U.S. Congressman Adam Putnam, Senator JD Alexander, Representative Marty Bowen and President of Florida Farm Bureau of Polk County Paul Sullivan at the announcement.

For more information on hurricane disaster assistance for growers, please see the attached document or visit http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

###

Sign-up for citrus, fruits and vegetables and plasticulture vegetables under Florida Hurricane Disaster Assistance will begin early October with payments beginning shortly after sign-up.  A sign-up date for nursery producers will be announced in the very near future.

Citrus producers will be reimbursed on a per acre basis for each eligible grove.  Payments will be based on the severity of destruction as determined by the path of the storms and damage estimates developed by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in cooperation with the Florida Department of Agriculture.  The formula will take into account various levels of losses generally correlating to the distance from the eye of the hurricanes, the average production loss, tree loss, and rehabilitation and cleanup costs.  Further explanation is given in the following table.  

Citrus Crop Losses for Hurricanes Charley and Frances

 

Severity of destruction

Payment rate per acre for insured producers

($)

Tier 1

>75% crop loss and associated tree damage

1,500

Tier 2

50-75% crop loss and associated tree damage

1,000

Tier 3

35-50% crop loss and associated tree damage

 600

Tier 4

<35% crop loss and associated tree damage

100

 

Payments for eligible fruits and vegetable producers will be based on a per acre basis, and payments for plasticulture vegetable producers will be based on the type of planting application or method installed or completed at the time the hurricanes hit. Plasticulture refers to production practices where the soil has been bedded, fumigated, fertilized, drip irrigation tape installed and plastic-mulch laid.  The production cost for plasticulture is much higher than for conventional row-cropped vegetables.  Payments for plasticulture losses will be made in three categories based on the relative amount of investment. The following table provides payment details.  

Vegetable Crop Losses for Hurricanes Charley and Frances

(For Plasticulture & Bare-ground Acreage)

Plasticulture Planted Acres (with Plants)          $2,500 per acre

Plasticulture Acres With No Planted Acres (no Plants)          $2,000 per acre

Plasticulture Double-Cropped Plastic Acres     $1,000 per acre

 

Conventional Row-Cropped Vegetable Acres 

Suffering Substantial Losses           $250 per acre

Nursery payments will be based on a percentage of inventory loss (exact percentage is yet to be determined) plus a flat rate payment of $250 per acre to address general clean up costs from the hurricanes. 
 

Payments for this assistance are authorized under Section 32 of the Agricultural Act of August 24, 1935, which allows the Secretary to restore producers’ purchasing power. Aid to producers under this program is estimated at more than $500 million.  The use of these funds will not impair the Department’s ability to meet its responsibilities under the child nutrition programs and other food assistance programs. These important nutrition programs are fully financed and all of the entitlements will be provided.  Also, funding will continue to be available to purchase surplus agricultural commodities that will be donated to food assistance programs.

Each producer payment is limited to $80,000.  Payment rates will be 5 percent less for producers who did not obtain Federal Crop Insurance, which is available from the Risk Management Agency, or on coverage under the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which is available from the FSA.  Similar to a number of other USDA program, payments will not be available for producers whose adjusted gross income is $2.5 million or higher, unless 75 percent is derived from farming and forestry. In addition, producers will be required to agree to purchase crop insurance for next year’s crop.  Other conditions will apply.  A Federal Register notice will be published providing more program details.

The closing date for sign-up will be announced at a later date, but producers will be given ample opportunity to complete the process. Producers in any of the eligible counties are encouraged to visit their local FSA county office to begin the sign-up process.

For more information about other disaster assistance, producers should contact or visit local county FSA offices or USDA Service Centers.

 

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Last updated: July 08, 2005

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