The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 60 counties in Florida as primary natural disaster areas caused by cold weather and freezing conditions that occurred in January 2010.
The 60 counties are:
Alachua, Dixie, Highlands, Manatee, Polk, Baker, Duval, Hillsborough, Marion, Putnam, Bay, Flagler, Holmes, Martin, Sarasota, Bradford, Franklin, Indian River, Miami-Dade, St. Johns, Brevard, Gadsden, Jefferson, Monroe, St. Lucie, Broward, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Nassau, Sumter, Calhoun, Glades, Lake, Okeechobee, Suwannee, Charlotte, Gulf, Lee, Orange, Taylor, Citrus, Hamilton, Leon, Osceola, Union, Collier, Hardee, Levy, Palm Beach, Volusia, Columbia, Hendry, Liberty, Pasco, Wakulla, DeSoto, Hernando, Madison, Pinellas, and Washington.
“President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to the area and serious harm to farms in Florida and we want to help,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to a wide variety of crops. In addition to crops, there were significant losses to the aquaculture industry, including losses to finfish and mollusks.”
Farmers in Clay, Jackson, Seminole and Walton counties in Florida also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Farm operators in the counties listed below in the adjacent states of Alabama and Georgia also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous.
Brooks, Charlton, Decatur, Grady, Thomas, Camden, Clinch, Echols, Lowndes andWare.
All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas Jan. 29, 2010, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses.
FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.
USDA also has made other programs available to assist farmers and ranchers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), which was approved as part of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the Emergency Conservation Program; Federal Crop Insurance; and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov .