Hurricane Irma Archives - Page 5 of 45 - Florida Politics

Nursing home records dispute ratchets up

In the latest twist in months of legal battling after Hurricane Irma, an embattled Broward County nursing home has accused the Florida Department of Health of not properly complying with a judge’s order to turn over public records.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is scheduled Monday to hold a hearing on arguments by attorneys for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills that the department should be held in contempt in the records dispute, according to an online docket and court records.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills has faced months of scrutiny and a state move to revoke its license after residents died following Hurricane Irma. The Sept. 10 storm knocked out the nursing home’s air-conditioning system, creating sweltering conditions that led to the evacuation of residents on Sept. 13. Authorities have attributed 12 deaths to the problems at the nursing home.

The nursing home and the state have been locked in a legal battle about the license revocation and other issues, and The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills filed a public-records lawsuit Jan. 31, alleging that the department had improperly refused to provide copies of death certificates for people across the state from Sept. 9 through Sept. 16 – a week-long period that included Hurricane Irma and its immediate aftermath.

Court documents have not spelled out why the nursing home wants the death certificates, but Lewis last month said the death certificates are public records and should be provided by the state.

“The records requested by petitioner (the nursing home) are subject to Florida’s Public Record Act … and there is no applicable statutory exemption to permit their withholding from release,” Lewis wrote.

But in a document filed last week, attorneys for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills alleged that the Department of Health had not properly complied with Lewis’ order.

“Despite a final judgment ordering DOH to comply with Hollywood Hills’ public records request, DOH is delaying, attempting to charge illegal fees and otherwise intentionally refusing to comply with this court’s mandate,” the document said. “As such, this court should find DOH in contempt and order the records be produced immediately.”

In part, the nursing home objected to a May 7 invoice from the department for $5,928, including $5,907 for “review & redaction” of the records. The nursing home contends that there is not a need to review and redact information from the death certificates, a process that the invoice indicates would require 492.25 hours.

The court docket Tuesday morning did not include a response from the department. But in objecting to the original public-records request, the department contended that the large request fell under part of state law dealing with “vital records or data.”

It said the nursing home’s request didn’t meet legal standards for releasing such information.

“Whereas anyone may request and receive a redacted death certificate (under part of state law), only certain people and entities may receive the type of general data that would allow research to be conducted,” the department argued in a March motion to dismiss the case.

“Such data … is far more broad than simply one or two specifically requested death certificates. The only possible purpose for this subsection (of law) is to regulate who may obtain large swaths of data derived from death certificates and other such records.”

The motion said the nursing home is “not the type of entity which may receive this data.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Agriculture Commissioner candidates eye disaster plans

After farmers and ranchers sustained heavy damage in Hurricane Irma, candidates for state Agriculture Commissioner are offering a variety of approaches to make Florida’s food chain more resilient before future natural disasters.

Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, wants the state to expand on a temporary relief package for farmers that the Legislature rolled out after Hurricane Irma.

Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, wants to put pressure on the federal government to shift more authority over federal services to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services “to ensure that the needs of our farmers and the agricultural community is met.”

Former Rep. Baxter Troutman, a Winter Haven Republican, speaks of a need to strengthen roads, rails and ports, while fortifying utilities and keeping workers safe so they can quickly return to work.

And Homestead Mayor Jeff Porter, a Democrat, wants the state to establish a separate emergency relief fund for farmers and ranchers, separate from one that is typically opened for all businesses impacted by natural disasters.

Hurricane Irma, which inflicted $2.5 billion in losses to Florida’s agricultural community, was just one in a series of natural disasters across the nation in 2017 that showcased the precarious nature of growing and distributing food.

Grimsley, Caldwell and Troutman indicated they intend to build on the work of outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for Governor. Porter, meanwhile, contends Putnam has been more “reactive than proactive.”

“I lived through one of the worst natural disasters in our nation’s history when Hurricane Andrew leveled the city of Homestead,” Porter said. “As a city council member, vice-mayor, and mayor of Homestead over the last 15 years, I know from experience that planning in advance is more beneficial to the community than reacting after the disaster has hit. I’m not only talking about hurricanes but the fruit fly infestation that hit the agricultural community and floods and cold snaps.”

Grimsley said Putnam has worked “tirelessly within the constraints of his budget.”

“The next commissioner has the opportunity to build upon and enhance those efforts with long-term preparation in mind,” Grimsley said.

While saying Putnam has done “a great job understanding the industry’s challenges,” Caldwell said more needs to be done to hold the federal government accountable.

“There is bureaucracy left over from the Obama administration that has caused a backlog in the federal government’s ability to respond to natural disasters quickly,” Caldwell said. “It took the federal government nearly five months after Congress approved funding for crop recovery from 2017 hurricanes and storms to draft procedures for requesting funds. As the commissioner of agriculture, I will be an active voice in Washington for our industry, and I will work with my agency staff to look at turnkey solutions rather than wait on and rely on the federal government.”

Florida’s citrus industry was particularly hard hit by Irma, which made landfall in September in Monroe and Collier counties and then barreled up the state. Florida will get a federal block grant worth $340 million to go exclusively to the citrus industry.

The citrus industry also has struggled for years with deadly citrus-greening disease.

Caldwell said he intends to call for research and development on “stronger crop varieties” such as sumo citrus, tangelos and ruby red grapefruit that fared bettered against the disease than traditional Florida navel oranges.

After Irma, the Legislature created tax breaks on fuel used to transport agricultural products, on agricultural materials purchased for repairs and for citrus packing houses that had their businesses interrupted by the storm or citrus disease.

Grimsley wants the Legislature to expand on those efforts by “encouraging the hardening of facilities and structures.”

“A long-term approach to this would allow for refitting of farm operations to make certain that the next time disaster strikes, our state’s agriculture industry is well prepared and can quickly get back up and running,” Grimsley said.

Grimsley also envisions the State Agriculture Response Team, or SART, taking on a year-round responsibility to work with local officials on “challenges from high winds, heavy rains, flooding and wildfires.”

“That would include developing best practices, offering mitigation cost-share programs when appropriate, and routinely investing in equipment and supplies staged specifically for disaster response,” she said.

Troutman said avoiding disruptions of food production and distribution requires continuing many of Putnam’s policies, while also looking for “new ways to innovate and modernize” the industry.

“I would strongly promote policies to strengthen and protect the industry from all threats: natural, man-made, and economic,” Troutman said.

Porter would like the state to consider putting farmers and ranchers in a higher priority category in areas such as debris removal, which could help “reduce their overall losses and enable these businesses to save crops and livestock which helps all involved.”

And due to the importance of agriculture on the state’s economy, Porter, said a reserve fund should be set aside in the budget for agricultural businesses to help growers recover.

“Currently, those affected in the agricultural community must stand in line with all businesses or wait on federal relief which can takes many months,” Porter said. “By funding a special ‘locked box’ reserve . . . we would be able to disburse funds quicker to farmers and ranchers in need. This fund could be replenished once the slow moving federal funds are released.”

Agriculture Commissioner is one of three Cabinet jobs that will be on the November ballot, along with Attorney General and state Chief Financial Officer.

Other announced candidates for agriculture commissioner, Republican Mike McCalister and Democrat David Walker, a marine biologist from Fort Lauderdale, did not respond to requests for comment before a Monday deadline about disaster-related issues.

Jeffrey Soffer closes deal to buy South Florida’s Mardi Gras Casino

Real estate billionaire Jeffrey Soffer has closed on a deal to buy South Florida’s former Mardi Gras Casino and Race Track.

The closing was disclosed in a final order filed Monday and released Tuesday by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

But the department, which regulates gambling in the state, withheld a final OK for a slot machine license, pending Soffer’s 831 Federal Highway Acquisition company paying $2 million for the license fee and a $250,000 “regulatory fee.”

Otherwise, “this Final Order approves of the transfer of assets and ownership interests” of its other gambling permits, the department said.

The sale marks an end to the four-decade long ownership of the Hallandale Beach facility by Hartman & Tyner (H&T), a Southfield, Michigan property management firm. Now named “The Big Easy Casino,” it has been closed since it was damaged by Hurricane Irma, though a poker room has since reopened. 

It also marks the completion of Soffer’s quest to buy the property.

The Soffer-family controlled Turnberry Associates real estate development company also owns Miami Beach’s famed Fontainebleau Resort

Speculation arose whether Soffer wanted to move the casino license from the Hallandale Beach track to the Fontainebleau. But according to Soffer, “such a move is both illegal and not in the cards.”

“I just like the real estate … I like the business. I think it’s a good opportunity,” he told the Miami Herald in January. 

Soffer had retained lobbyist Michael Corcoran, brother of GOP House Speaker and likely candidate for governor Richard Corcoran.

And, as reported by The Associated Press in January 2017, Senate President-designate Bill Galvano “acknowledged that he did legal work for Turnberry Associates on a ‘commercial transaction’ as recently as three years ago.” Galvano, past president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, has long been the Legislature’s go-to man on gambling issues.

The terms of the Mardi Gras sale were not disclosed in the DBPR’s final order, but The Real Deal, a South Florida real estate news website, reported last month that Soffer “paid $12.5 million” for the nearly 28-acre property “and financed the deal with a $19.5 million mortgage from Florida Community Bank.”

A message seeking comment from Soffer was left Tuesday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what involvement longtime casino head Dan Adkins will have with the facility. A request for comment from him also is pending.

As Florida Politics reported in March, Adkins had been locked in a legal battle with H&T and its directors, accusing them in federal court of lying to him that he’d be paid “millions of dollars” upon sale of the company’s gambling businesses in Florida, West Virginia and Michigan.

H&T struck back by filing its own federal suit, saying the 60-year-old Adkins “engag(ed) in self-dealing, corporate waste, and gross mismanagement … conceal(ing) the poor financial state of H&T’s businesses caused by his misconduct so that he could … enrich himself and his family members.”

H&T’s suit also blamed Mardi Gras’ damages on Adkins, saying “oversight was poor, (and) the roof of the racetrack came off during Hurricane Irma because it was incorrectly installed under Adkins’s direction.” 

Those cases were settled out of court and closed last month, dockets show.

Feds announce $340M grant for Florida citrus

A bit more money is on the way for Florida citrus growers affected by Hurricane Irma.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Monday that his agency will provide a $340 million block grant to the state to cater to Irma-affected farmers during the 2018-2020 crop year — that’s in addition to the $2.36 billion worth of farm disaster funding authorized by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in February.

According to USDA, the money from the grant will cover the buying and replanting of trees, grove rehabilitation, and repairs to irrigation systems.

“The Florida citrus industry was likely hit the hardest, and with such a high-value crop, they face a steeper financial burden and as a whole, have less coverage through our traditional insurance options,” Perdue said in a prepared statement.

Perdue said he was directed by President Trump to work “directly with Governor [Rick] Scott and [Agriculture] Commissioner [Adam] Putnam in Florida to put a process in place that will ensure the Florida citrus industry maintains its infrastructure and can continue to be the signature crop for the state.”

“Since Hurricane Irma hit our state, I have been fighting for Florida’s citrus growers to get the relief they need to rebuild their livelihoods, including taking immediate steps to provide relief from the state,” Scott said.

Added Putnam: “While no amount of relief can make the farmers who suffered damages from Hurricane Irma whole, this much-needed disaster relief will help Florida agriculture get back on its feet.”

The $2.36 billion, separate from the block grant, will be distributed by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency through the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.

Earlier in April, Florida leadership — Scott, Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and Putnam — increased the pressure on the USDA to disperse the funds, the News Service of Florida reported.  

Since then, the USDA’s offered a few details and a rough timeline.

Per the agency, here’s what we know: “Eligibility will be limited to producers in counties that experienced hurricanes or wildfires designated as presidentially-declared disasters in 2017; Compensation determined by a producer’s individual losses rather than an average of losses for a particular area (where data is available); Producers who purchased higher levels of risk protection, such as crop insurance and noninsured crop disaster assistance program, will receive higher payments; Advance payments up to 50 percent; and a requirement that payment recipients obtain future risk protection.”

A sign-up period to determine eligibility will begin no later than July 16.

Report raises questions about job growth

Gov. Rick Scott has tied his political fortunes to job creation.

Although skeptics can argue about how much influence a Governor may exert over Florida’s economy, Scott has been unabashed in taking credit for job growth since he was sworn into office in January 2011.

In his monthly jobs report last week, Scott cited more than 1.5 million jobs created in Florida since December 2010, including 167,000 private-sector jobs in the 12 months ending in March.

But as Scott prepares to formally qualify for the U.S. Senate race next week, a new federal report cast Florida in an unusual role, as the state with the most net job losses, at least for the third quarter of 2017.

“R’oh-r’oh,” a Democratic consultant tweeted. “This is not good news for @ScottforFlorida.”

But it turns out that predictions of an end to Florida’s job-growth surge may be premature.

Economists say the blip in Florida’s job growth is attributable to the impact of Hurricane Irma, although the fact that Florida and 26 other states showed net job losses in the third quarter of 2017 may also be a sign of an economy reaching full employment that would bring a natural slowdown in job growth.

The quarterly report on “business development dynamics” by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that for the first time since 2010, more jobs were lost in the national economy in the third quarter of 2017 than the number of jobs created.

From June 2017 through September 2017, the U.S. had 7.3 million gross job gains compared to a loss of 7.4 million gross jobs, or a net difference of about 140,000 fewer jobs, according to the federal data.

Florida led all states in the number of net job losses at about 134,000 in the quarter, with 417,000 gross jobs gained and 551,000 lost in the three-month period.

But Sean Snaith, an economist at the University of Central Florida, said he did not see anything particularly alarming about Florida’s labor market in the report, which was issued Wednesday, given what happened to the state during that period.

Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, struck the Florida Keys on Sept. 10, moving northward and impacting most of the state.

“You see something transpire that looks a little bit at first glance potentially troubling, but when you put some context around it, the reason for this third-quarter outcome is really just attributable to the outcome of Irma,” Snaith said about the new federal report.

“It was a double whammy because it hit in terms of both job gains and job losses in way that led itself to reverse the path that (Florida) had been on,” Snaith said.

The results of the quarterly report were foreshadowed by monthly jobs reports issued by the U.S. Department of Labor last fall. The reports showed a significant drop in Florida’s non-farm employment in September.

The adjusted figures showed those jobs dropped by about 167,000 to 8.4 million jobs in September, compared to August. But they climbed back another 180,000 jobs in October to a total of more than 8.6 million non-farm employment, according to the data.

“I think we’ll return to the trend where job gains are exceeding job losses,” Snaith said about the next federal quarterly report on business development dynamics.

But Snaith also said he expects the job-growth margin “to narrow somewhat” going forward, given that Florida is “in a pretty tight labor market now, maybe not at full employment but getting awful close.”

Florida’s unemployment rate has been at 3.9 percent since September, below the national average of 4.1 percent. State economists who advise the governor, lawmakers and other state officials consider an unemployment rate in the range of 4 percent to represent “full employment” in the state economy.

“The Florida economy is quite strong, and the labor market continues to do well,” Snaith said. “I don’t think there is anything to be alarmed about in terms of Florida’s labor market in this report.”

Regulators look at utility hurricane plans

After Hurricane Irma temporarily knocked out electricity for millions of Floridians in September, state regulators next week will hold a two-day workshop to look at utility preparedness and storm-response plans.

The Florida Public Service Commission has scheduled the workshop Wednesday and Thursday in Tallahassee.

An agenda indicates the commission will receive presentations from major private utilities and representatives of municipal utilities and electric cooperatives.

“The purpose of this workshop is to review electric utilities’ storm preparedness plans and activities and restoration of service actions after a named storm in order to explore the potential to further minimize infrastructure damage, resulting outages and recovery times to customers in the future,” a notice of the workshop said.

Hurricane Irma caused widespread outages after it made landfall in Monroe and Collier counties and swept north through the state.

The Public Service Commission began a process in October of gathering information and comments about storm issues.

Feds to provide grants to schools enrolling hurricane evacuees

The U.S. Department of Education will move forward with grants to schools in Florida and other states that took in children evacuees from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and then struggled with unexpected costs, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy‘s office announced Tuesday.

Under legislation Congress pushed through and approved in February, with Murphy’s backing, the department will be making grants of $8,500 for each enrolled student who was displaced by the hurricanes that tore through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last September. The grants are up to $10,000 per student for students with disabilities.

According to a release from Murphy’s office, school officials will be able to use the money to pay and hire teachers, purchase classroom supplies, lease additional classroom space, mentor students, and provide transportation services.

“Schools and communities in central Florida have welcomed displaced students from the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with grace and generosity, and this federal funding will give them the financial support they need to offer a high-quality education to both new and existing students,” Murphy stated in the release. “I’m proud I was able to lead the bipartisan effort in Congress to deliver this much-needed support to our local schools. I will keep fighting to help displaced families and the communities that have embraced them.”

The Florida Department of Education will collect data from the state’s school districts; apply for funding from the U.S. Department of Education; and then distribute the federal funding it receives to the school districts based on their documented need.

Florida’s public schools reported enrolling at least 12,000 displaced students.

Report: Florida shortchanged on Hurricane Irma unemployment assistance

A new report from the National Employment Law Project Action Fund charges that Florida’s workers got shortchanged by state and federal efforts to provide disaster unemployment assistance following Hurricane Irma last fall.

The report alleges Floridians, under Gov. Rick Scott‘s guidance, received far less from the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program than under any Florida governor who has overseen hurricane recovery for the past 30 years.

The federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides cash aid to both workers and small business owners when their paychecks are interrupted due to unemployment after a disaster.

The new report charges that the Scott administration did little to help Floridians find or access the program and contends that led to Florida having the least amount of DUA claims, approved claims, and money compared with relief programs offered for any major hurricane in decades.

Scott had received praise and improved public opinion poll job performance ratings following the state’s response to Irma. But the group behind the report charged that Scott’s high marks were unearned, at least considering how he dealt with helping Floridians access the disaster money.

Tiffany Vause, director of communications for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, responded on behalf of the administration, accusing the group of not getting its facts straight, using fuzzy math, and pushing a false narrative.

“This report is invalid and filled with inaccurate generalizations and conclusions. The NELP report uses statements of opinions as fact, is misleading and does not paint an accurate picture of disaster recovery in Florida,” she said in a written response. “It is also irresponsible for NELP to compare Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey – two very different storms with vastly different impacts.

Specifically, she said the group cites a federal report that summarizes claims filed to February, but that the end date for applications was March 17, so the group “left out critical information regarding the number of DUA claimants and those who received benefits.”

NELP cites a federal report that summarizes claims filed since February but the end date to claim disaster unemployment assistance in Florida was March 17, 2018, therefore NELP left out critical information regarding the number of DUA claimants and those who received benefits.

She also insisted that the Department of Economic Opportunity “went above and beyond to ensure that families impacted by Hurricane Irma were treated fairly and got the assistance that they deserved. This includes extending the deadline for DUA twice while aggressively advertising this assistance and we also worked directly with legal aid offices during the storm.”

While Vause described a Florida that recovered quickly, NELP Action portrayed one where people had a hard time getting aid.

“Governor Rick Scott may be touring the state touting his record after Irma, but for Floridians who were forced out of work by the hurricane and needed unemployment assistance, Governor Scott was missing in action,” Paul Sonn, director of NELP Action, stated in a news release that went out with the report Wednesday. “He helped fewer workers and small business owners get jobless aid after the hurricane than any Florida governor in 30 years.”

The fund advocates progressive economic policies, particularly on wages and benefits.

Only 2,434 workers and small business owners received any DUA payments in the six months after Irma. That’s a mere 35 percent of the people who managed to apply for DUA and were found eligible by the Scott administration, the report states. It is the lowest share of eligible claimants receiving DUA in the last 30 years.

“I saw firsthand how the Scott Administration botched relief for people who’d lost their livelihoods because of Irma,” Jennifer Hill, a Miami-based legal advocate, stated in the release. “Hurricane victims couldn’t find out how to apply for unemployment insurance online, and backup phone lines were either shut down or transferred callers out of state to people who couldn’t help them. There’s no question that the Scott administration failed tens of thousands of working Floridians.”

According to the report, 7,149 Floridians applied for the disaster unemployment assistance following Hurricane Irma, 6,953 were deemed eligible, and only 2,434 received the aid, or 35 percent. Recipients averaged $138 per week in benefits.

That compares to a far more robust response in Texas following Hurricane Harvey last year, acceding to the NELP Action report. There, 26,326 people applied, 19,650 were deemed eligible, and 8,492 received benefits, 43 percent, averaging $245 apiece per week.

Floridians’ disaster unemployment program benefits for Irma relief also were less robust than what Florida experienced following Hurricanes Andrew in 2002, and Frances, Charley, Ivan, and Jeanne in 2004, and Wilma in 2005, according to the report. Following each of those storms, more than half of the Floridians applied received benefits. Of those disasters, only Jeanne resulted in fewer Florida DUA Fund beneficiaries than Irma; while more than 3,000 Floridians received benefits following Ivan, more than 4,000 for Charley and Wilma, and more than 6,000 following Andrew and Frances.

“After Hurricane Irma, most Florida workers and small business owners were unable to access Disaster Unemployment Assistance. For weeks after Irma, the Scott Administration’s online claims system didn’t list DUA as an option for applying for assistance,” the report states. “And backup phone lines were frequently shut down, left callers on hold, or transferred calls to out-of-state agents who couldn’t file claims. The Scott Administration also failed to deliver on promises to fix the system, and they denied workers’ first weeks of benefits even when they said they wouldn’t.”

State increases Irma insurance loss estimate

Pointing to “human error,” the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Thursday increased its latest property-loss estimate from Hurricane Irma by more than $1.2 billion.

The new number is $8.6 billion from the September storm. When updating the number of claims reported by private insurance companies last Friday, the office had posted the estimated losses at $7.38 billion, a drop of more than $600 million from a February estimate.

Department spokeswoman Karen Kees, who called the number in the initial post a “human error,” noted that some information from private insurers had initially been placed in an incorrect column.

The state agency doesn’t release data by individual insurance companies, asserting protection of trade secrets.

Thursday’s update didn’t alter the overall statewide number of 924,439 claims that had been posted last Friday.

Insurance companies have closed 90.1 percent of residential claims but just 58.2 percent of commercial-property claims. Across the state, more than 20,000 claims had been filed in 15 different counties, topped by 120,921 in Miami-Dade, 77,434 in Collier, 77,039 in Broward, 73,314 in Lee and 71,572 in Orange.

Rick Scott urges quick action on agriculture aid

Gov. Rick Scott is asking U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to move quickly to get disaster-relief funding into the hands of Florida citrus growers, as it may be another three months before farmers can start to apply for the money.

In a letter Tuesday, Scott also asked Perdue to “customize federal aid for Florida citrus growers” to meet their needs.

“Many growers, both large and small, in Florida are awaiting details on the USDA’s (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) plan to distribute funding,” Scott wrote.

On Friday, Perdue announced that a program to distribute $2.36 billion to farmers in Florida and other areas would be running by July 16. The agriculture aid is part of a $90 billion disaster-relief package signed by President Donald Trump in February. The package is directed towards victims of hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria and wildfires in California.

Florida’s agriculture industry suffered an estimated $2.5 billion in losses from Irma, with the citrus industry accounting for at least $761 million of those damages.

Perdue’s announcement Friday said distribution information will come “at a later date.” His office also noted, in part, that compensation will be determined by producers’ individual losses rather than by average losses in particular areas and that people receiving aid obtain future crop insurance.

Scott’s letter followed a request by Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to “avoid arbitrary limitations on disaster relief so we can get Florida’s farms, groves, and nurseries back to full operation” as soon as possible.

“USDA is right to incentivize personal responsibility through the purchase of crop insurance, however some crop policies work better than others,” Rubio wrote. “USDA should not punish citrus growers and others who understandably forgo purchasing higher levels of coverage of a poor insurance product.”

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