The Florida Timber Recovery Block Grant Program and the Florida Irrigation Recovery Block Grant Program are now available for producers and farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael.
The $380 million grant program comes less than a year U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced $800 million in grants to agricultural producers in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia affected by hurricanes Michael and Florence.
The grants are part of a larger $3 billion disaster relief package created in the wake of Hurricane Michael. The storm, one of the largest in state history, struck Mexico Beach as a Category 5 with sustained winds reaching 160 mph. In a news release, the Florida Department of Agriculture said 500 million trees were destroyed for an estimated loss of $1.3 billion in timber alone. In all, Florida agricultural commodities suffered a $1.5 billion loss.
“It’s been nearly two years since Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle as one of America’s worst-ever storms,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “As we enter the next phase of securing relief for producers and landowners, I am more confident than ever in the future of Florida’s forest industry as we work together to get trees back in the ground. Thank you to Secretary Perdue for keeping Florida’s $25 billion timber industry at the forefront of recovery efforts.”
While the funds are provided by USDA, they will be managed by several state agencies including the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Forest Service.
“I commend the remarkable resilience of the landowners, and thank our state and federal partners and our Florida Forest Service personnel for remaining focused on restoring the timber industry in the Panhandle,” said Florida Forest Service Director Erin Albury. “The countless hours invested in this effort will ensure Florida’s forest resources are available for future generations.”
The deadline to apply is Nov. 20.