Gary Cooper Citrus, FL Commissioner Report, Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today announced that agricultural producers in 59 of Florida’s 67 counties are eligible for federal disaster assistance as a result of damage from Tropical Storm Fay in late August.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 36 counties impacted by the storm as primary disaster areas and 23 others as contiguous disaster areas, and counties in each category are eligible for disaster aid.

“We are very appreciative of the Bush Administration’s decision to honor our request in having these counties declared disaster areas so that farmers and ranchers impacted by the storm can seek the disaster assistance that many of them need to rebuild their businesses,” Bronson said.

On September 3, Bronson asked Governor Charlie Crist to seek federal disaster declarations for the impacted counties that were battered by high winds, excessive rainfall, flooding and tornadoes associated with Tropical Storm Fay as it relentlessly hammered Florida between August 19 and August 24.

Agricultural producers in the 59 counties are eligible to be considered for Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans, and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

FSA is currently developing regulations and software for the SURE program, so while FSA emergency loans are the only program available immediately, Bronson said he anticipates that additional resources will be available to those producers with losses as soon as the SURE program is implemented.

FSA will consider each application on its own merits, and local FSA offices can provide impacted farmers with further information.

Counties receiving the primary disaster declaration were: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hendry, Highlands, Holmes, Indian River, Jefferson, Lee, Leon, Madison, Marion, Martin, Nassau, Okeechobee, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Suwannee, Union, Volusia, Wakulla and Washington.

Counties receiving the contiguous county disaster declaration were: Broward, Calhoun, Citrus, De Soto, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hardee, Jackson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Liberty, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, Taylor and Walton.