Florida growers get half a billion in hurricane assistance

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2004 (ENS): Payments began Friday to agricultural producers impacted by hurricanes under the Florida Hurricane Disaster Assistance Program. This program, announced by President George W. Bush on August 27, financially assists agricultural producers who suffered citrus, fruit, vegetable, nursery and related damages due to Hurricanes Charley, Frances and/or Jeanne during August and September

"Today, USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] is beginning to issue payments to Florida producers just 75 days after the first hurricane struck," said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. "This financial relief, amounting to more than $500 million, will provide a much-needed boost to Florida's agriculture industry."

Payments to citrus producers are based on damages generally correlating to the distance from the eyes of the hurricanes and are for production loss, tree loss, rehabilitation and cleanup costs.

Nursery crop payments are equal to 25 percent of the actual dollar value of inventory loss and a flat rate of $250 per eligible acre for cleanup.

Fruit and vegetable producers must suffer a minimum of a 50 percent crop loss. Per-acre payments are based on the type of production practices utilized by producers.

Sign up is ongoing for the three programs contained under the Florida Hurricane Disaster Assistance Program. The end of the sign up periods will be announced at a future date, the agency said.

The USDA crop estimates for Florida citrus released today cite the orange crop suffered a 27 percent loss over last year’s production and the grapefruit crop experienced a 63 percent loss over last year. It is expected that these losses will reduce orange juice inventories by 29 percent and grapefruit juice by 68 percent this season.

Still, the estimated orange crop combined with ample juice reserves, should provide enough for U.S. consumption,” said Robert Norberg, director, Economic and Market Research for Florida Department of Citrus.


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