Concern About Crop Disaster in Hastings Growing Area

Randall Weiseman Florida, Specialty Crops, Vegetables

(Gainesville, Fla.) ­ As heavy rains continue, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation today urged producers in the Hastings area to prepare for heavy crop losses. As much as 17 inches of rain has fallen in the area so far this week, assuring agricultural producers will have problems harvesting potatoes, cabbage, cantaloupe and other fresh vegetables, as well as sod.

“These crops will be damaged and could be lost if wet conditions delay harvesting,” said Pat Cockrell, executive assistant to the Florida Farm Bureau president.

Farmers should take some immediate steps to begin establishing crop insurance claims. The disaster relief program contained in the new farm bill may offer some eventual assistance to stricken producers, but under the new administration rules for that program have yet to be implemented.

Cockrell said there are four steps the farmers should take immediately:

* contact the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in their county
* document damage by taking photographs
* prepare to file a claim, if they have crop insurance
* contact district offices of their congressional representative (Rep.
Corrine Brown or Rep. John Mica) as well as the offices of Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez

“Florida Farm Bureau has also contacted these offices and we are in close contact with the Farm Service Agency,” Cockrell said.

For the farmers to receive federal disaster assistance the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Gov. Charlie Crist must declare a disaster and request the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture to take action. This will be the first time Florida producers have sought assistance under the disaster program set up under the new farm bill.
Previously, disaster relief required congressional action and an appropriation. The new disaster process is aimed at making a pool of dollars available so producers would not have to go through the appropriation process.

The Florida Farm Bureau Federation is the state¹s largest general-interest agricultural association with about 138,000 member-families statewide.
Headquartered in Gainesville, the Federation is an independent, nonprofit agricultural organization. More information about Florida Farm Bureau is available on the organization’s Web site.