Ron DeSantis Asks USDA for Disaster Declaration to Help Florida Farmers Hit by Freezing Temperatures

On Tuesday, Gov, Ron DeSantis requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issue a Disaster Declaration for counties impacted by freezing temperatures.

In his letter, DeSantis also requested any assistance available under the Farm Service and other USDA programs to assist recovery efforts for agricultural producers. The letter is available here. More information about the USDA Disaster Declaration process is available here.

“Florida’s farmers play a key role in our State’s economy and my administration is committed to their recovery from the recent freezing temperatures,” said DeSantis. “I’ve requested that the USDA approve all assistance available so that Florida’s agriculture community can protect remaining crops and prevent any further losses.”

“Our farmers suffered significant losses after freezing temperatures damaged crops during a critical time in the harvesting season,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie. “Through this request, Governor DeSantis is ensuring Florida’s agricultural producers have every resource available to them as they continue their recovery efforts. The Division remains committed to supporting these efforts and continuing to work with impacted counties.”

“During my recent tour of Florida’s farms, it was evident that the drastic dip in temperature greatly impacted our farmers’ crops,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Sec. Dane Eagle. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO stands ready to assist with resources to support our state’s agricultural industry and hardworking farmers, who are essential to our economy.”

From January 29 – January 31, a strong cold front brought prolonged record-breaking freezing temperatures that damaged crops. In response, the state has been coordinating with counties, agricultural producers and other partners in the agricultural industry.

Prior to weather impacts, FDEM hosted calls with counties to identify unmet needs, coordinated with the Florida Department of Citrus and prepared the deployment of Recovery Damage Assessment Teams.

Last week, DeSantis issued Executive Order 22-27 to provide assistance to impacted counties. The Executive Order directed state agencies to respond to the emergency and allowed certain size and weight restrictions to be waived in order to quickly transport emergency equipment, supplies, personnel or agricultural food commodities and citrus.

This week, Eagle and Guthrie traveled to impacted counties, toured crop damage and met with agricultural producers to discuss ongoing recovery challenges.

DEO has also activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey to assess the impact freezing temperatures had on the state’s agriculture businesses. Results from this survey will be shared with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief. Businesses can complete the survey online by clicking here or by going to FloridaDisaster.biz and selecting “Freezing Weather Event January 2022” from the dropdown menu.

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