On August 21, 2020, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service announced that registration for the Florida Timber Recovery Block Grant Program and the Florida Irrigation Recovery Block Grant Program is now available to agricultural producers and forest landowners who suffered damage from Hurricane Michael in October 2018. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the program is managed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management in conjunction with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the Florida Forest Service (FFS), which will provide technical assistance to forest landowners required to produce documentation to receive compensation for their loss.
“It’s been nearly two years since Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle as one of America’s worst-ever storms,” said Commissioner 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.”
“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 Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “The countless hours invested in this effort will ensure Florida’s forest resources are available for future generations.”
To be eligible for the Florida Timber Recovery Block Grant Program (TRBG), a producer must:
- Be the owner of record or the lessee who has rights to the timber crop at the time of application of a minimum of 10 contiguous acres of nonindustrial private forest land located in one of the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton and Washington
- Have stands of timber that sustained a minimum of 25 percent loss due to Hurricane Michael
- To learn more and register for the TRBG, visit FloridaDisaster.org/timber
To be eligible for the Florida Irrigation Recovery Block Grant Program (IRBG), a producer must:
- Be the owner of record of center pivot irrigation infrastructure at the time of application and document that the crop growing under the center pivot as of October 10, 2018, sustained a minimum 15 percent crop loss due to Hurricane Michael
- To learn more and register for the IRBG, visit FloridaDisaster.org/irrigation
Registration is the first step toward receiving block grant funds, and should only take a few minutes to complete. The deadline to register for these programs is Friday, November 20.
FDEM and FFS will be conducting community outreach to ensure timber producers have the information they need to apply. Additionally, producers can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurricane Michael made landfall in Mexico Beach as a Category 5 storm on October 10, 2018, bellowing through Florida with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph and leaving an estimated 500 million trees broken, uprooted, or blown over. The economic loss has been conservatively estimated at $1.3 billion for timber alone, accounting for most of the $1.5 billion loss in total Florida agricultural commodities. The hardest hit areas are some of the most forested counties in the state.
In November 2019, U.S. Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would make available $800 million in block grants to agricultural producers in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia affected by hurricanes Michael and Florence. The state block grants are part of a broader $3 billion disaster relief package to help producers recover from 2018 and 2019 natural disasters. The Florida Timber Recovery Block Grant is the first-ever state block grant for timber producers from the USDA.
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