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Agriculture Producers To Get $2.36 Billion For Hurricane Recovery

A citrus tree in a Hendry County grove after Hurricane Irma.
Jessica Meszaros
A citrus tree in a Hendry County grove after Hurricane Irma.

Federal agriculture officials are now making a couple billion dollars available to growers, including those in Florida who were affected by Hurricane Irma... seven months after the storm. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Friday, April 6 that his department will divvy up $2.36 billion to agriculture producers across the country who lost business in areas where disasters were declared due to hurricanes or wildfires last year.

Gene McAvoy is the agriculture extension agent for the University of Florida in Hendry County. He says the growers he works with, especially in citrus, need this money as soon as possible.  

“I don’t think anybody is gonna show a profit this year because... if you lose $1 million and you're making a five percent return on your money, it takes $20 million in sales to repay that million. So it's gonna take several years for the industry to really come back across the board," he says.

A press release from Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s office says this announcement “comes just days” after he and Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio sent the agriculture secretary a joint letter urging him to help Florida farmers.

The money is part of a new program called 2017 WHIP, which stands for Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program. Growers can start signing up for the disaster relief funds July 16.

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Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.