The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Florida Citrus Mutual continue to push for the prompt disbursement of funds associated with Hurricane Irma relief. Mutual is optimistic the Hurricane Irma Block Grant program administered by the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) will begin in earnest next week.
Administrators of the Block Grant will hold an internal Florida Citrus Recovery Grant Program Training Session on Wednesday, Sept. 5. Subsequently, it is expected DEM contracted staff will be stationed at each county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
Also, both FSA and DEM staff will be briefed on the final, approved application guidelines and pricing information next week. Governor Rick Scott and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are expected to release a statement on the status of the program very soon.
The Block Grant application process is expected to begin on Sept. 10 and checks should be distributed to growers quickly after. Applications will be submitted online or at select FSA offices. The Block Grant will move forward at its own pace, regardless of how the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) payments progress. However, to be eligible for the Block Grant program, growers must first file a WHIP application. Mutual urges growers to set up an appointment at their county FSA office if they haven’t already.
Under the Block Grant program, producers who suffered greater than 20 percent losses are eligible for $385 per acre, while those who experienced 40 percent or greater losses are eligible for an additional $750 per acre.
“Florida Citrus Mutual, working with FDACS, the governor’s office and the Division of Emergency Management, will continue to prioritize this issue until all payments are made,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president/CEO Mutual. “We understand the growers’ frustrations, as well as the sense of urgency, and we are committed to seeing this through as soon as possible.”
Source: Florida Citrus Mutual
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