This week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis requesting the activation of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to assist small businesses harmed by Hurricane Sally, including small agricultural entities.
Earlier this week, Fried met with around 50 North Florida farmers suffering damage from the Category 2 storm. Many Florida agriculture producers are facing up to 100 percent crop losses, and cannot wait for potential federal financial assistance.
Fried’s letter to the governor reads as follows:
Dear Governor DeSantis,
I write today to request that you activate the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to assist small businesses financially harmed by Hurricane Sally, including small agricultural entities.
As you know, Hurricane Sally made landfall as a Category 2 storm along the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, September 16. The storm resulted in a Presidential Major Disaster declaration on September 18 for Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and Washington Counties.
While Florida farmers are no strangers to natural disasters, Hurricane Sally has ravaged hundreds of thousands of acres of agricultural products. This includes key seasonal crops and other commodities valued at $400 million, which support 8,000 jobs in the affected counties. In recent days, I have seen first-hand the devastation suffered by North Florida’s farmers, including in the northern portions of the affected counties.
This request for expeditious financial support is necessary, as Panhandle agricultural producers facing up to 100 percent losses cannot wait for federal relief which can be slow to arrive, as we have seen with Hurricane Michael relief just beginning to reach producers. With agriculture as our state’s largest economic driver, made so by the economic effects of COVID-19, the need to support our farmers and growers at this critical moment is readily apparent.
I strongly urge you to activate the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, so that our proud Florida agriculture producers can secure the timely resources needed to recover from Hurricane Sally.