TALLAHASSEE — On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture informed Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried it has granted a Secretarial disaster declaration for several key counties impacted by Tropical Storm Eta, rain, flooding, and wind that occurred from November 7, 2020 through November 10, 2020. The storm was projected to cause at least $85 million in crop losses, especially seasonal produce crops.
The Secretarial disaster declaration names Collier, Hendry, Lee, and Miami-Dade Counties as primary disaster areas, as well as Broward, Charlotte, Glades, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, and Palm Beach as contiguous counties. This disaster declaration opens access to Farm Service Agency (FSA) disaster loans for agriculture producers in all 11 of the listed primary and contiguous counties. In November, Commissioner Fried encouraged agriculture producers impacted by Tropical Storm Eta to seek USDA disaster assistance available at that time.
“This Secretarial disaster declaration will help Florida’s farmers who were impacted by Tropical Storm Eta’s winds and rain,” said Commissioner Fried. “This storm came at a critical time for our seasonal produce growers already dealing with COVID-19 losses and heavy rainfall in parts of the state ahead of the storm. I thank USDA Acting Secretary Kevin Shea and the Farm Service Agency for recognizing our agriculture producers’ need for assistance.”
Farmers in eligible counties will have eight months from the February 12, date of the Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Agriculture producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for additional details. https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=fl&agency=fsa