USDA Highlights Disaster Assistance Available to Florida Producers Impacted by Hurricane Ian

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Photo by USDA/Shows Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack visiting a citrus grove in Florida on Thursday.

Polk County, Florida – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a citrus grove in Polk County, Florida on Thursday to survey the impact of Hurricane Ian and meet with producers impacted by the storm. The Secretary highlighted efforts by the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist growers in rebuilding their operations and increase their bottom lines.

“We know how devastating storms can be to the operations of farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA is committed to helping producers impacted by severe weather recover and will use all the tools we have to ensure that producers can rebuild and continue to do what they do best by feeding our nation and the world.”

USDA’s Disaster Recovery Efforts in Florida

Photo by USDA/Shows Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack visiting a citrus grove in Florida on Thursday.

USDA is working through nearly 2,500 requests for assistance following the hurricane. It has held more than 16 outreach events specifically for Hurricane Ian disaster assistance programs to assist producers and organizations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided assistance to producers through the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Natural Resource Conservation Service. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has authorized policy exceptions for three key disaster assistance programs to aid Florida agricultural operations that were significantly impacted by Hurricane Ian in 2022. These programs include the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

Crop Insurance

Florida producers received more than $190 million in Federal crop insurance payments as a result of Hurricane Ian with $134 million arriving within weeks due to the hurricane policy, which automatically triggers a payment if a county qualifies based on data from the National Hurricane Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. RMA manages the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to provide innovative crop insurance products, like the hurricane policy, to America’s farmers and ranchers.

Citrus producers have received almost $79 million in indemnities for damage from Hurricane Ian. Claims are continuing to be resolved as citrus harvest is still ongoing. Final production numbers are needed to finalize claims.

Tree Assistance Program

TAP provides financial cost-share assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or, where applicable, rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines lost by natural disasters.

For citrus producers, the deadline to file a Notice of Loss with FSA has been extended. It’s been moved from 60 days to an additional two years on the timeframe to complete practices for citrus losses. A request for a practice extension must be made in writing (can be submitted via email) before practice completion date.

Source: USDA