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:
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/.