FCA Fence crew volunteers cleared debris to restore fences along highways in Jackson County. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension
Over the past month every business in the impact zone of Hurricane Michael has felt the anguish of anticipating large expenses that no one had budgeted for. There are a wide range of disaster programs to support both small businesses and farming operations. One of the greatest challenges, however, is the immediate need for cash to get an operation going again. For farmers, the are several disaster programs that provide 75% cost share on things like debris removal, livestock fence repair, and timber planting. The challenge is that you have to pay the expenses first and then turn in the receipts for reimbursement. Whether you need to hire extra labor, contractors, rent special equipment, or make immediate purchases, you may need some cash to get started while you secure the longer-term financing needed to cover theses unexpected expenses. All of the recovery tasks seem overwhelming, but at least there are a number of agencies available to provide assistance. The hard part is making sure people are aware wide range of services that are available to help with disaster recovery. Thus the point of this article, there is a new program available for a short period of time worth getting more information about.
On October 12, Governor Scott activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program:
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program supports small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during Hurricane Michael. The application period runs through December 7, 2018.
Governor Scott said, “The damage we have seen from Hurricane Michael is indescribable and unprecedented for the Panhandle. We are aggressively working to restore power in these communities so that our small businesses can get back on their feet. We will do everything we can to help our small businesses – that truly are the heart of the Panhandle. The small business bridge loan program will help small business owners and communities get back up and running and I encourage all affected business owners to apply today.”
DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.
Key points of the Florida Emergency Bridge Loans:
For small business up to 100 employees
$25,000 per eligible small business with fewer than 2 employees
$50,000 per eligible small business with 2 to 100 employees. Loans of up to $100,000 may be made in special cases as warranted by the need of the eligible small business.
Have one year to repay loan
Only one loan per business
0% interest if repaid with in a year. 12% interest on the unpaid balance thereafter, until balance is paid in full.
Applications will be accepted through December 7, 2018
7-10 day approval period
Sources for more information about this program:
Call the Florida Small Business Development Center Network – 866-737-7232
Vsit the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) near you:
Bay County – DRC #11 – Bay County Public Library 898 W 11th Street, Panama City, FL 32401
Bay County – DRC # 13 – John B. Gore Park 530 Beulah Avenue, Callaway, FL 32404
Calhoun County – DRC #10 – Sam Atkins Park NW Silas Green Street, Blountstown, FL 32424
Franklin County – DRC #2 – Carrabelle Public Library 311 St. James Ave, Carrabelle, FL 32322
Gadsden County – DRC #7 – Old Gretna Elementary School 706 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Gretna, FL 32332
Gulf County – DRC #9 – Port St. Joe Library 110 Library Drive, Port St. Joe, FL 32456
Gulf County – DRC #12 Wewahitchka Town Hall 211 Hwy 71, Wewahitchka, FL 32465
Holmes County – DRC #5 – Holmes County Agricultural Center 1169 US 90, Bonifay, FL 32425
Jackson County – DRC #3 – Jackson County Extension Office 2737 Penn Ave, Marianna, FL 32448
Jackson County – Jackson County Mobile DRC Route 6910 Hall Street, Grand Ridge, FL 32442
Leon County – DRC #4 – Collins Main Library 200 West Park Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301
Liberty County – DRC #8 – Veterans Memorial Park 10405 NW Theo Jacobs Way, Bristol, FL 32321
Wakulla County – DRC #1 – Community One Stop 318 Shadeville Hwy, Crawfordville, FL
Washington County – DRC #6 – Washington County Agricultural Center 1424 W Jackson Ave, Chipley, FL 32428
Following the USDA-FSA (United States Department of Agriculture-Farm Service Agency) meetings that were held across the Panhandle in response to Hurricane Michael, one word was a common factor program qualification: DOCUMENTATION!
In fact, most times it was said that producers need to “Document, Document, and Document.” But what exactly does that mean, and how exactly should it be done? And let’s face it, most of us in the agricultural industry are not the best at taking the time to write things down, especially after the storm of the century! However, in this case, it is not an option, but a necessity. In addition to pictures, work and purchase logs will be needed to fully document damage and recovery efforts.
Records should be kept for each individual USDA Farm Number. Documentation of labor and efforts will need to be recorded and broken down by farm numbers. If you do not know your farm number or need to create one, please contact your USDA-FSA office. In addition, records should be kept in detail for all work that is done by the producer and/or those that are hired out.
Keeping detailed records of all activities related to the storm is critical for the USDA-FSA programs. Producers will not only need to log the scope of work but also record the following:
- Date work done
- Who completed work (Self vs. Hire)
- Rate charged (per hour/acre/tree etc.)
- Scope of work
- Man-hours worked
- Size and type of equipment used (Chainsaws, generators, tractors, trucks, trailers, etc.)
This includes all chainsaw work, time spent in your tractors or dozers and other equipment that is used during storm clean up. Also, remember to log it as man hours. For example, if 3 people from your farm run chainsaws for 8 hours doing debris removal, that would be logged as 24 hours (3 men x 8 hours). In addition, include details about locations of work done and how/why it was required to maintain or restore normal operation of your farm. For example, tree removed from the field to allow for harvest equipment to enter a field, or cleanup of damaged feed barn to allow of additional feed to be delivered for livestock.
Expenses from the storm can help quantify the scope of damage. Detailed records and receipts should be kept of all purchases made in relation to the disaster. This will be key for disaster relief programs, as well as for tax purposes. These purchase/expenses could include:
- Fence Repair Supplies
- Feed (above normal or as a replacement of lost feed)
- Vet Supplies (Replacement of lost vaccines from power outages)
- Capital purchases
In addition to work and purchase logs, photographs are key documentation. These too should be kept by farm number. While taking photos, take close ups as well as wide angle pictures that help capture the vastness of the damage in addition to being able to be used to help verify the location of the pictures. If you are able to email pictures to yourself, after documenting a farm/location, email those pictures to yourself with the location and other important information to help keep images organized. This will also allow for pictures to be stored in more than one location as a backup.
Long story short, it is better to over-document, than to wish you had. Utilization of these logs will help keep records for each farm number and give your operation a great starting point when meeting with USDA-FSA program staff to report your storm damage. Detailed information about Disaster Assistance Programs are available online or by contacting local offices. Additional information or types of documentation can be seen from the Wisconsin FSA document: Disaster Assistance Program Loss Documentation
Copies of the Work and Purchase Logs can be downloaded for printing using the following links, or are available by mail by calling the UF/IFAS Extension Holmes County Office 850-547-1108.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service released requirements for open burning, effective November 2, 2018, in the following counties impacted by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.
The Florida Forest Service created two geographical zones, primary and secondary, to identify hurricane-impacted areas with specific open burning requirements. Effective immediately through January 7, 2019, burning hurricane vegetative debris in the impact area zones requires an on-site inspection and burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service. Zone parameters are as follows:
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed at Disaster Debris Management Sites approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or with an Air Curtain Incinerator.
- On-site inspections are required for all burn authorizations.
- Broadcast burning is not allowed.
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed.
- Broadcast burning is allowed.
- Fire Supervisor approval is required for all burn authorizations.
“We have thoroughly evaluated the wildfire risks in these areas hardest hit by the storm,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Our plan will effectively reintroduce open burning into these areas with firefighter and public safety as the primary focus.”
Due to the immediate need for certification, the Florida Forest Service is offering two courses:
Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through the Florida Panhandle resulted in significant damage to homes and property, including nearly 3 million acres of timberland. The volume of timber on the ground has created a serious threat, causing great concern for catastrophic wildfire danger in the short and long term. The Florida Forest Service has transported additional heavy equipment into the area and is working with state and federal agencies to assist with re-establishing fire lines.
To obtain a burn authorization in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson or Washington County, contact (850) 373-1801. To obtain a burn authorization in Franklin, Gadsden or Liberty County, contact (850) 681-5951. Certified burn authorizations may also be obtained by downloading the free FLBurnTools app in Apple App Store or on Google Play.
The Florida Forest Service will continuously evaluate current requirements to determine if restrictions are appropriate. For current wildfire conditions, interactive fire maps and more information on burn authorizations, visit FloridaForestService.com.
In response to the large amount of storm debris from Hurricane Michael, the Florida Forest Service and the University of Florida Jackson County Extension Service will be offering a no-cost, Certified Pile Burner Course in Marianna, Florida. For the next several months, because of the risk of wildfires and the challenge of private property access, only certified pile burners will be issued commercial permits in the primary impacted region of Hurricane Michael.
This is one-day class will be offered on consecutive days to allow greater participation:
Choose either Tuesday, November 27, 2018 or Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Class size may be limited, so register early. This course will show you how to burn piles legally, safely, and efficiently. This training will be held from 8:30 am till 4:30 pm Central Time at the Jackson County Agriculture Offices, 2741 Pennsylvania Ave., Marianna, Florida.
There will be a test at the end of the session. You must receive a grade of 70% or higher on the exam to pass the course. After passing the course, you will need to demonstrate a proper pile burn with approval from your local Florida Forest Service (FFS) office to become certified.
Florida’s Certified Pile Burner Training Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I be a certified pile burner?
A: Certified pile burners are trained to burn piles legally, safely and efficiently. Most importantly, it could save a life. Also, when the weather is dry, certified pile burners will receive priority for authorization to burn by the Florida Forest Service (FFS). Also, certified pile burners are allowed to burn up to two hours longer per day and get multiple day authorizations.
Q: What is a Pile Burner Customer Number?
A: When you call the FFS for an authorization to burn, you will be assigned a personal customer number. This number references your information, so it doesn’t need to be gathered each time you call for an authorization. You must have your individual FFS customer number in order to be certified.
Q: Is there a test?
A: Yes, the test is 20 questions and open-book. You must receive a score of at least 70% to pass.
Q: What if I don’t pass?
A: Very few people fail the test but if you do, you will be provided another opportunity to take the test at a later date. If you fail the second time, you must re-register and take the training again.
Q: Why do you ask for my email on the application form?
A: Email is the fastest and most convenient method to inform registrants of their registration status. If no email address is provided, then all correspondence will be sent through the federal mail. This can take several days to relay messages, and this may not be practical if changes are made to the course schedule or for last minute registrations.
Q: Is there a cost for the training?
A: No. This is a special class in response to Hurricane Michael, the traditional $50 fee has been waived for these courses.
Q: How long does my certification last, and how long do I have to complete the certification from the time I finish the class?
A: As long as the person with the certification uses their number at least 5 times in a period of 5 years their certification will not expire under the current program. You MUST complete the certification burn within a year of taking the class.
Q: Will certified burners be notified if their certification expires?
A: Yes, notification will be sent out to them to let them know of their upcoming certification expiration date.
Q: Will I be certified at the end of the one-day training?
A: No, you will need to follow the written instructions that you will receive from the FFS to become certified. You will need to complete a simple burn plan, have it reviewed and approved locally by the FFS and also have the burn itself reviewed and approved by the FFS.
Q: Is there a minimum age to be a certified pile burner?
A: Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to take the test and be a certified pile burner.
For more information, contact:
Florida Forest Service
Representatives from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Rural Development (RD) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) will present disaster assistance information for agricultural producers.
Workshop topics include emergency assistance for livestock & crop-related expenses and losses; financial assistance programs to help with farm and farmland damage; deadlines for applying for disaster assistance programs and programs to help with restoration and rehabilitation of farm and ranch land. Following is the list of dates and locations. All times local.
November 6, 9:00–11:00 am
First Baptist Church Sanctuary
1300 South Blvd.
Chipley, FL 32428
November 6, 2:00-4:00 pm
Jackson County Extension Office
2741 Penn Ave
Marianna, FL 32448
November 7, 9:00-11:00 am
Rivertown Community Church Sanctuary
19359 SR 71 North
Blountstown, FL 32424
November 7, 2:00-4:00 pm
FAMU Research and Extension Center
4259 Bainbridge Highway
Quincy, FL 32352
***ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Agriculture Disaster Assistance – Information Session for Agriculture and Forest Producers – 2018 (link)
For more information about these USDA meetings, contact Shelly Sale, 850-547-2850 extension 2.
Impact of Hurricane Michael on seven year old pecan trees at Quincy Research Station. In an era of climate change with a higher frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes, resistance to storm injury should be considered as a criterion when selecting pecan cultivars. Credit: Pete Andersen, UF/IFAS
Pete Andersen, Horticulture Specialist, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy
The pecan (Carya illinoenensis, family Juglandaceae) is native to the Mississippi floodplain of North America. Pecan trees are not well adapted to withstand hurricane force winds. Ironically, the best maintained trees with thick foliage and a large nut crop approaching late summer are most susceptible to damage as a result of tropical storm or hurricane force winds. A low input pecan variety trial was initiated at the NFREC-Quincy in February 2011. This trial consists of Amling, Caddo, Cape Fear, Curtis, Desirable, Elliot, Excel, Forkert, Gloria Grande, Kanza, Melrose, Moreland, Oconee, Pawnee, Stuart, Sumner, Kiowa. No insecticides or fungicides were applied in 2018.
Hurricane Irma had a negative impact on the NFREC-Quincy pecan orchard. Several trees were blown over and many leaves were blown off the trees in response to tropical storm force winds (Table 1). Hurricane Irma produced sustained winds as high as 37 mph at the FAWN measurement center in Quincy, although I suspect that wind gusts were as high as 50 to 60 mph. After Hurricane Irma and the high scab pressure of 2017, the 2018 crop was virtually eliminated at the NFREC-Quincy. Between 0 and 40 % of the trees were blown over by Hurricane Irma. Melrose was the cultivar most impacted by hurricane force winds, whereas all trees of seven cultivars remained upright. One tree each of Caddo, Curtis, Elliott, Gloria Grande, Melrose and Oconee that were blown down to a 45o angle were staked and tied to a vertical position with two posts and wire several weeks after Irma. They remained upright until hurricane Michael blew all of these trees down in a direction not supported by the posts (generally from south to north).
Hurricane Michael was far more damaging than Irma, with sustained winds of 55 mph recorded at the Quincy FAWN weather station. I believe that wind gusts on October 10, 2018 were as high as 70 to 85 mph. All trees of Excel, Lakota, Stuart and Sumner remained vertical after hurricane Michael (Table 1). At least 44 % of Caddo, Cape Fear, Curtis, Desirable, Forkert, Gloria Grande, Melrose and Moreland were blown over by the storm. Some varieties such as Curtis and Melrose were blown completely over with a broken major root system, whereas Desirable, Elliott, Forkert and Kiowa were leaning at an angle of 45 to 90o. Trunk circumference was usually between 22 to 29 inches (two feet in height). Curtis, Desirable, Kiowa and Oconee were the smallest trees, which I attribute to partial defoliation due to high pecan scab pressure. The three largest diameter trees (Elliott, Excel, Lakota) are all scab resistant cultivars. Incidentally, only two trees of Stuart sustained any significant limb breakage (data not shown).
The high frequency of hurricane events that impact regions within 50 miles of the Gulf of Mexico must be taken into account when growing pecan trees. However, what made hurricane Michael particularly devastating to the pecan industry was that category 3 hurricane status was retained into Georgia. This hurricane was probably the most devastating storm to ever impact the center of the pecan industry in Albany, Georgia. The timing was especially bad in that most varieties had not yet been harvested.
I would like to share one observation concerning a pecan tree’s tendency to sustain hurricane injury. As mentioned earlier, trees with heavy foliage and a good nut crop will sustain the most wind damage. Another factor to consider is the in-row weed free strip (normally 8 to 12 feet wide). Weed control will increase the efficiency of water and fertilizer use by pecan trees, and is necessary for sweeping nuts at commercial harvest. An unintended consequence of this bare soil is that tree roots cannot be held in place by surrounding vegetation. For example, the roots of bahiagrass (often used in row middles) can extend down to a depth of 3 feet or more. I observed that roots of blown down pecan trees were usually pulled loose from this in-row strip because there was no support from surrounding vegetation.
In conclusion, there was a cultivar dependent degree of hurricane injury in the NFREC-Quincy pecan orchard. The most resistant cultivars to blowing over were Excel, Lakota, Stuart and Sumner. The most injury was recorded for Desirable and Melrose. If we are in an era of climate change with a higher frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes, resistance to storm injury should be considered as a criterion when selecting pecan cultivars.