Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program, 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). Additionally, USDA will provide $340 million through a block grant to the State of Florida for Hurricane Irma losses to citrus production expected during the 2018 through the 2020 crop year, reimbursement for the cost of buying and planting replacement trees – including resetting and grove rehabilitation, and for repair of damages to irrigation systems among other things.
In total, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and other states impacted by wildfire. Following the announcement, Secretary Perdue, Florida Governor Rick Scott, and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam issued the following statements:
“Last year our nation experienced some of the most significant disasters we have seen in decades, some back-to-back, at the most critical time in their production year. The Florida citrus industry was likely hit the hardest, and with such a high-value crop, they face a steeper financial burden and as a whole, have less coverage through our traditional insurance options. Under the direction of President Trump, my office has been working directly with Governor Scott and Commissioner Putnam in Florida to put a process in place that will ensure the Florida citrus industry maintains its infrastructure and can continue to be the signature crop for the state,” Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “Our team is working as quickly as possible to make this available to farmers in need and continues to provide excellent customer service, which began the day the storm hit through a successful recovery within local communities.”
Governor Scott said, “Since Hurricane Irma hit our state, I have been fighting for Florida’s citrus growers to get the relief they need to rebuild their livelihoods, including taking immediate steps to provide relief from the state. Our citrus growers have had many challenges over the last few years, including fighting citrus greening, which was compounded by the ravaging effects of Hurricane Irma. Florida prides itself on our incredible and iconic citrus industry and this funding will help ensure that Florida remains synonymous with citrus.”
“While no amount of relief can make the farmers who suffered damages from Hurricane Irma whole, this much-needed disaster relief will help Florida agriculture get back on its feet. I thank Secretary Perdue, Governor Scott, our federal leaders and the agriculture industry for their collaborative efforts to provide this relief. Florida’s $120 billion agriculture industry is a pillar of our economy, and we must continue to give our farmers and ranchers the support they need to thrive,” said Commissioner Putnam.