(ADAI) — Commissioner Rick Pate is encouraged by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent announcement awarding $800 million in a disaster aid block grant for agricultural producers in various southern states.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) has worked with USDA leadership for the past four months on a disaster aid block grant program, specifically for producers impacted by Hurricane Michael in October of 2018.
USDA officials have informed ADAI that $24.9 million in block grant funds, of the $52.9 million requested, will be available to eligible Alabama producers for the following commodities: livestock, timber, pecans, and irrigation infrastructure.
“Farmers in the southeast portion of Alabama are still feeling the effects of destruction caused by Hurricane Michael one year ago,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate. “We realize that these disaster funds will not make affected farmers whole again but this funding may sustain their operations enough to stay afloat.”
The disaster aid block grant program is in addition to the $3 billion USDA Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP+) funding announced by Secretary Perdue on September 9, 2019. The purpose of the disaster aid block grant program is to offer assistance for commodities not covered under the WHIP+ and other USDA programs.
According to Alabama State Forester Rick Oates, “The damage done by Hurricane Michael to Alabama forests continues to affect timber producers. Forest landowners not only lost the trees that were destroyed but have not been able to reforest because the clean-up from such a dramatic loss takes time.” Oates continued, “Even though these relief funds will pale in comparison to the actual loss felt by forest landowners, the assistance will help.”
Over the next few weeks ADAI will be finalizing the block grant with USDA along with learning commodity specific programmatic details. Upon Disaster Aid Block Grant execution, the department will announce sign-up and eligibility details.