Disaster Assistance Programs Available

Josh McGillfinancial, Florida, hurricane

Four federal disaster assistance programs and one Florida program are among those available to growers to assist in recovery after Hurricane Ian.


The first four programs listed below are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). To apply for these programs, contact a local FSA office, or the Florida FSA office at 352-379-4500.

The Emergency Loan Program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the Secretary of Agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the President under the Stafford Act. These loans help producers who suffer qualifying farm-related losses directly caused by the disaster in a county declared or designated as a primary disaster or quarantine area. Also, farmers located in counties that are contiguous to the declared, designated or quarantined area may
qualify for emergency loans.

For production losses, a 30% reduction in a primary crop in a designated or contiguous county is required. Losses to quality, such as receiving a 30% reduced price for flood-damaged crops, may be eligible for assistance, too.

The Disaster Set-Aside Program provides producers who have existing direct loans with FSA who are unable to make the scheduled payments to move up to one full year’s payment to the end of the loan. Assistance is available in counties, or contiguous counties, which have been designated as emergencies.

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought.

Eligible land includes land used for commercial farming, ranching and orchard operations; growing nursery stock and Christmas tree plantations; grazing for commercial livestock production; and conservation structures such as waterways, terraces, diversions and windbreaks.

The Tree Assistance Program provides financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines lost by natural disasters.

Gov. Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $50 million available. At least $10 million of that must go to small businesses that are agricultural producers impacted by Hurricane Ian in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia counties. Small businesses in the most impacted counties — Charlotte, Collier, Lee, and Sarasota — will be escalated and prioritized as they are received.

The program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to Hurricane Ian. Interested applicants can apply through Dec. 2.

Loans made under this program are short-term and zero-interest. Further program information may be obtained at 833-832-4494.

Sources: Florida Citrus Mutual and Gov. Ron DeSantis