U.S. Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., want the federal government to quickly approve aid for farmers, small business and communities impacted by Hurricane Irma.
In a letter Wednesday to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the senators asked for “expedited consideration of any disaster declaration and assistance requests.” Irma caused extensive damage to citrus crops and caused losses for other parts of the agriculture industry such as vegetable growers. “Florida’s farmers and ranchers are fiercely independent and self-sustaining, but after Hurricane Irma’s devastation, they will need the federal government’s assistance to plow ahead and sow the seeds of a fruitful recovery,” Rubio and Nelson wrote. “We urge you to continue your work with state and local partners to ensure that Florida’s rural communities, farmers, ranchers, and small businesses have access to all necessary assistance to rehabilitate farmland and recover from crop losses.”
Perdue on Monday took an aerial tour of groves in Southwest Florida with Rubio, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Rooney. Perdue, a former Georgia governor, tweeted Monday, “Staggering crop loss from #Irma will test the resilience of growers.”
Putnam advised members of the Florida Citrus Commission that federal relief may have to await congressional approval.