Monday, February 1, 2010

USDA DECLARES 60 FLORIDA COUNTIES AS PRIMARY NATURAL DISASTER AREAS DUE TO COLD WEATHER LOSSES

TALLAHASSEE -- Governor Charlie Crist and Florida emergency management officials today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that there were sufficient crop losses caused by cold weather and freezing conditions January 2 through January 14, 2010 to warrant a Secretarial Disaster Declaration in 60 Florida counties.

On January 15 Governor Crist sent a letter to USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack requesting a disaster designation for all 67 counties in Florida after the state experienced unusually cold weather.

“We are grateful to Secretary Vilsack and our federal partners at the USDA for granting this needed disaster assistance to Floridians,” said Governor Crist. “The USDA designation will assist our agricultural industry in obtaining economic relief for losses sustained during the exceptionally long freezing temperatures last month.”

This designation makes farm operators in these counties eligible to be considered for assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Potential assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE) that was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. The FSA will consider each application on its own merit by taking into account the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.

“Disasters often occur over wide areas,” said David Halstead, interim director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Under the declaration, farm operators in the contiguous counties of Clay, Jackson, Seminole and Walton are also eligible to apply for assistance if they suffered production losses.”

The 60 designated counties include:

Alachua
Baker
Bay
Bradford
Brevard
Broward
Calhoun
Charlotte
Citrus
Collier
Dixie
Duval
Flagler
Franklin
Gadsden
Gilchrist
Glades
Gulf
Hamilton
Hardee
Highlands
Hillsborough
Holmes
Indian River
Jefferson
Lafayette
Lake
Lee
Leon
Manatee
Marion
Martin
Miami-Dade
Monroe
Nassau
Okeechobee
Orange
Osceola
Polk
Putnam
Sarasota
St. Johns
St. Lucie
Sumter
Suwannee
Taylor
Union

Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/.

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