The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has extended the deadline for applications from agricultural producers for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages from Hurricane Ian in Florida. The application deadline has been extended to Sept. 25, 2023.
The 28 approved counties for ECP signup are Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia.
“We understand the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Ian and the catastrophic and widespread impacts in Florida’s agricultural communities,” said Deborah Tannenbaum, state executive director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Florida. “Through disaster assistance programs like ECP, we can provide critical financial assistance to help alleviate some economic stressors brought on by the hurricane, restore infrastructure and help impacted agricultural operations move forward and build resiliency following this disastrous storm.”
ECP provides financial assistance to producers to help them restore their farmland to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75% of the cost of an approved restoration activity. Limited resource producers, socially disadvantaged participants and beginning farmers and ranchers may receive up to 90% cost-share. The payment limitation for ECP is $500,000 per disaster event.
The approved ECP practices under this authorization for Hurricane Ian recovery include:
- Removing debris from farmland
- Grading, shaping, releveling or similar measures
- Replacing or repairing permanent fences
- Restoring conservation structures and other installations
Hurricane-impacted producers must apply for assistance and receive written approval prior to beginning restoration work. Restoration work initiated prior to written approval may not qualify for ECP assistance.
FSA county committees will evaluate applications based on an applicant’s estimates or measurements of the damaged land, taking into consideration the type and extent of the damage. On-site visits will only be required for conservation structures. Application submission does not guarantee that cost-share funding will be provided.
The use of ECP funds is limited to activities to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the disaster are not eligible for ECP assistance.
In addition to ECP, USDA offers a full suite of disaster assistance programs to help Florida producers recover from Hurricane Ian. Information about these programs is provided in USDA’s Hurricane Ian recovery news release issued on Oct. 14, 2022.
The Hurricane resources webpage, Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster Assistance Programs at a Glance fact sheet, and Loan Assistance Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Program needs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.
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