(FDACS/TALLAHASSEE, FL/January 16, 2024) — Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and legislative leaders announced the launch of two agricultural disaster recovery programs with over $112 million in funding to help Florida farmers, ranchers, and growers rebuild and recover from Hurricane Idalia. Impacted agricultural producers can now apply for the Agriculture and Aquaculture Producers Natural Disaster Recovery Loan Program and the Silviculture Recovery Program.
In September, Commissioner Wilton Simpson announced the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ estimate of nearly $450 million in losses and damage to Florida agriculture from Hurricane Idalia. During a special legislative session in October the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 1-C, which provided funding for and directed FDACS to launch critical recovery programs for impacted agricultural producers.
“Florida’s agriculture industry sustained widespread damage from Hurricane Idalia, and today’s launch of the Hurricane Idalia agriculture recovery programs — the first state-funded programs of their kind – is another important step to get our impacted producers back on their feet,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “Florida’s farmers, ranchers, and growers work day in, day out, rain or shine, to feed our state and nation — and I am proud to stand with Florida’s leaders and once again demonstrate our steadfast support to these hardworking individuals.”
Agriculture and Aquaculture Producers Natural Disaster Recovery Loan Program
- $75 million is available for low-interest or interest-free loans up to $500,000 for eligible agriculture and aquaculture producers that have experienced damage or destruction from Hurricane Idalia.
- Loans may be used to restore, repair, or replace essential physical property, including fences, equipment, greenhouses, and other buildings, or to remove vegetative debris.
- Interested producers can learn more or apply here.
Silviculture Recovery Program
- $37.5 million is available to assist eligible landowners through cost-share grants in declared counties damaged from Hurricane Idalia with site preparation and tree planting activities.
- Grants will be up to 75% of the costs for site preparation and tree planting costs with a maximum award of $250,000.
- Interested producers can learn more or apply here.
“Hurricane Idalia had a devastating impact on Florida’s agriculture industry,” said Senate President-Designate Ben Albritton. “Through the Hurricane Idalia recovery programs, we are sending a clear message that we will always support our rural and agricultural communities. These recovery programs provide much needed support to farmers, growers, and ranchers across the impacted region and ensure that our producers can rebuild their businesses and continue to provide safe, wholesome food for American families. I have some wonderful partners in Commissioner Simpson and Senator Simon — Florida agriculture should know that they can count on our team.”
“Hurricane Idalia hit the heart of my district hard. I am thankful for these efforts to help in their recovery which in turn helps the entire state of Florida by keeping agriculture thriving,” said Senator Corey Simon. “With a steadfast commitment to the restoration of our agricultural backbone, we introduce initiatives that go beyond recovery — they signify a resurgence of prosperity for the good people of Florida.”
Jeb Smith, Florida Farm Bureau Federation President said, “Florida Farm Bureau commends Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson and his team for implementing the Agriculture Disaster Recovery Program. With Mother Nature being one of agriculture’s toughest business partners, Florida’s farmers and ranchers are used to facing challenges beyond their control. This program provides support to our farm families, allowing them to advance sustainably and ensure an adequate food supply to Floridians. We applaud the Florida Legislature, especially Senators Ben Albritton, Corey Simon, Jay Collins, and Representative Jason Shoaf, for championing this legislation through last year’s special session.”
Alan Shelby, Florida Forestry Association Executive Vice President said, “The Timber Landowner Assistance Cost-Share Grant Program offers much needed relief to our members in the impacted area. Forestry isn’t just their livelihood; it’s their way of life. It is also the lifeblood of many communities in the area who depend on forestry-related businesses to keep their economies thriving. This program will help them all move forward after a potentially devastating event. It takes strong leadership and a lot of hard work to make programs like this possible. We are grateful to Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson and to bill sponsors Senator Corey Simon and Representative Jason Shoaf for all they did to bring this program to life.”
Jim Spratt, Chairman of the Florida Ag Coalition said, “Hurricane Idalia ravaged our state during a critical time for our farmers, growers and ranchers. More than 3.3 million acres of Florida agricultural land were impacted, with commodities like row crops, timber, livestock, aquaculture, horticulture, dairies and more sustaining extensive damage and destruction. Thank you, Commissioner Wilton Simpson, for your steadfast leadership and continued support for Florida agriculture beyond the storm. This additional, much-needed expansion of Hurricane Idalia recovery programs will help our agricultural communities to recover and fortify our domestic food supply.”