(Gainesville, Fla. FFBF) – Florida Farm Bureau Federation continues to receive reports of crop damage in central and south Florida and in the panhandle, and concern over potential crop disasters is increasing. The state’s largest general agricultural organization noted parts of Florida have received more than 20 inches of rain this week.
Some farmers in the Jackson County area of west Florida are reporting damage to cotton and corn fields due to high winds. Producers in the Hastings area fear losses to potatoes, cabbages, cantaloupe and other fresh vegetables – crops which are nearing harvest – could run into the millions of dollars. Fields in the Hastings area are flooded, delaying harvesting.
Further south, farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area are reporting severe localized damage resulting from rain and hail to some sweet corn fields; some fields that were one week from harvest have incurred 50 percent or more losses in yield.
Federation officials advised farmers who sustain crop damage to contact the USDA Farm Service Agency in their counties, document damage by taking photographs and prepare to file a claim, if they have crop insurance.
“We also recommend they contact district offices of their congressional representatives and the offices of Sen. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez,” said Pat Cockrell, executive assistant to the president.
In order for 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. The new farm bill sets up a disaster program aimed at making a pool of dollars available for disaster assistance. Previously, disaster declarations required congressional action.
The Florida Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s 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, http://FloridaFarmBureau.org.