Since Georgia’s citrus industry is still in its infancy, leaders are determined to educate growers about the resources that are available to them. With help from Lindy Savelle, president of the Georgia Citrus Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently hosted an event to share many of those resources with growers.
The meet-and-greet workshop took place July 12 at the University of Georgia in Tifton. Members of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) spoke with growers and provided guidance on critical needs like farm loans, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
“We are still a very young industry,” Savelle said. “I think it’s important to educate and make available to growers and potential growers about what’s out there, the resources with USDA through Farm Service Agency and NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) as well. A lot of people just don’t know.”
Georgia’s citrus growers may not be privy to basic information like loans and federal insurance programs, because most are not traditional farmers, Savelle said. They are planting citrus in hopes of having something for their retirement days. Their knowledge of the inner workings of the USDA may not be the same as the average specialty crop grower. The workshop gave growers the opportunity to ask questions in an open forum.
“I serve on the state FSA committee, and one of the things that I saw after the Christmas freeze event was people didn’t know about the NAP and the TAP,” said Savelle.
One of the workshop’s goals was designed to help fix that problem and educate growers on how NAP and TAP work so that they can report losses on time and not miss future deadlines.
“We’re hoping an event like this that communicates what’s out there will send the message that this is available and will help our growers in the future,” concluded Savelle.
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