Natural disaster aid available to area growers

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 Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced recently that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 34 counties in Florida as primary natural disaster areas due to frosts and freezes during this winter season and drought over the last six months. The USDA has designated an additional 28 counties in Florida as contiguous natural disaster areas.
“Florida’s growers have faced difficult challenges this season, leading to significant crop loss and damage,” said Commissioner Putnam. “The natural disaster area designation from the USDA will enable Florida’s growers to apply for and obtain the assistance they need to recover and refocus their efforts on providing fresh fruits and vegetables to dining tables across the country.”
As a result of this designation, farm operators in both primary counties and contiguous counties are eligible to be considered for assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), including emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Program.
Farmers in these designated counties have eight months from today to apply for emergency loan assistance. FSA considers the extent of production losses, security available and repayment ability with each application. SURE Program applications for 2010 crop losses will be accepted in 2011, when the 2010 farm revenue data required by statute becomes available.  Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties are included in the counties designated as primary natural disaster areas due to frost and freezing during the period between Nov. 5 and Dec. 17.  Levy and Dixie counties are aslo designated as primary natural disaster areas due to drought that occurred after June 1, 2010.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages farmers to contact local FSA offices for additional information.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, www.facebook .com/adamputnam, and Twitter, @adamputnam.