On April 18, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the details of the $2.3 billion disaster relief program for Florida citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma will be finalized by next week. Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL), who spearheaded the relief effort, issued the following statement in response:
“Today, Secretary Perdue reassured Florida citrus producers that he is working to make sure that disaster relief is made available to growers large and small who are keeping the industry alive,” Congressman Rooney said. “For the last seven months, Florida growers have waited patiently for relief. I am encouraged by how receptive the Secretary has been to feedback from the industry and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. I hope that next week we’ll see details of a program that we can all be confident will work and help Florida’s citrus growers both recover and invest in production for next season.”
In February, Rooney and Florida Commissioner Putnam led a successful effort to provide $2.36 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a one-time disaster relief program to help farmers and growers affected by last year’s natural disasters.
At a hearing before the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Secretary Perdue outlined broad parameters for how the program will work and reinforced his commitment to incorporating feedback from the state. Perdue assured the Committee he is considering establishing a range of options for Florida’s citrus industry to access recovery funds, including a direct payments model which would not hold growers to traditional and restrictive AGI and payment limitations. Perdue expects the program – titled the Wildfire, Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) – will be finalized and made public by next week.
“The citrus industry generates roughly 45,000 jobs in rural communities like Wauchula and Sebring, so it goes without saying that Florida’s agriculture industry is critical to the prosperity of Florida’s 17th District and to our state,” Rooney said. “As the Secretary puts the final touches on the program, I feel confident he will try to reach as many impacted producers as possible, no matter the size of their operations.”
To view the full exchange between Rooney and Perdue, click here.
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