Florida – USDA Approves Disaster Declaration Request

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces USDA Approves Disaster Declaration Request for Agricultural Producers Impacted by Freezing Temperatures

TALLAHASSEE, FL (STL.News) Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) disaster designation for 17 counties and 10 contiguous counties impacted by the freezing temperatures that occurred from January 23 – 31.  The USDA’s approval letter is available here.

“With the approval of our request for a disaster declaration, farmers in Florida have resources available to them as they continue their recovery efforts from recent freezing temperatures,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.  “I remain committed to supporting our state’s agriculture industry and hardworking farmers.”

“This disaster declaration will provide additional recovery assistance to our hardworking agricultural producers impacted by the freezing temperatures,” said FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie.  “The Division will continue to identify all available resources for impacted farmers and ensure they have access to all programs that will help them recover.”

A USDA disaster declaration makes farm operators in these counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency, including emergency loans.  Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a USDA disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans.

The 17 primary counties eligible for USDA assistance are Broward, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, St. Lucie and Sarasota counties.

The 10 contiguous counties eligible for UDSA assistance are Brevard, Charlotte, Lake, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Pasco, Pinellas and Sumter.

Programs available under this declaration include the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, the Tree Assistance Program, Emergency Farm Loans and the Livestock Indemnity Program.

To apply for these programs, agricultural producers impacted by the freezing temperatures in the eligible counties should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.  A list of Farm Service Agency offices in Florida is available here.

In addition to State response actions, Governor DeSantis requested any assistance available under the Farm Service and other USDA programs to assist recovery efforts for agricultural producers.  The letter is available here.

Governor DeSantis also issued Executive Order 22-27 to provide assistance to impacted counties.  The Executive Order directed state agencies to respond to the emergency and allowed certain size and weight restrictions to be waived in order to quickly transport emergency equipment, supplies, personnel or agricultural food commodities and citrus.