By Clint Thompson
Georgia farmers hoping for financial relief from Hurricane Michael in 2018 can begin submitting online applications to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) for the $347 million in Farm Recovery Block Grant funds on March 18.
Adam Rabinowitz, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension assistant professor and agricultural economist, believes the block grant funds will provide extra benefits that were not covered by other federal disaster programs.
“In particular, when we talk about some of the fruit and vegetable crops that were lost and timber and some of the pecans, those are not covered by your more traditional WHIP (Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program) programs as they’ve been. This provides an opportunity to help those producers who equally suffered losses. Similar to the commodity crop producers who suffer losses, this will help those recuperate some of that lost revenue,” Rabinowitz said.
According to a GDA press release, Georgia farmers and forest landowners in 95 eligible counties who suffered losses to beef, dairy, fruit and vegetable, pecan, poultry, timber and uninsured infrastructure will need to enroll in the recovery program at farmrecovery.com.
Georgia agriculture was dealt a devastating blow on Oct. 10, 2018, when Hurricane Michael ravaged the state. Georgia’s No. 1 industry suffered a $2.5 billion economic loss. While the block grants will not make producers and their farming operations whole again, it will provide some relief.
“It’s been really difficult for farmers after the hurricane. For those that have been impacted significantly during a time where farm financials had already been at lower levels than recent past and tight financial times, and then you tack on a hurricane, the magnitude of what Hurricane Michael was and the impact there, it added to the stress and the worries,” Rabinowitz said. “I sit with some of these producers and they sit and talk about 2018 as the year they want to forget. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to think about.
“They want to move on, but they’re still recovering from that. They’re still rebuilding infrastructure. These block grants will help with some of that rebuilding and infrastructure where there may have been losses that weren’t covered.”
For more information and a guide to help prepare applicants for enrollment, visit farmrecovery.com.