TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Farmers and forest landowners in four Florida Panhandle counties can begin applying today for additional Hurricane Sally assistance through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Enrollment for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) begins today, January 4, and runs through March 4, 2021. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services encourages eligible producers to apply.
The activation of the ECP and EFRP programs are for those with farmland and private forestland damaged by natural disasters in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties. This assistance is in addition to FSA disaster loans through the Secretarial designations for Hurricane Sally-impacted producers in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Holmes, Washington, Calhoun, Gadsden, Jackson, and other contiguous counties. Enrollment for ECP and EFRP will be facilitated by county FSA offices, as with loans and other disaster assistance programs.
“Farmers and producers in the Florida Panhandle have suffered serious natural disasters and setbacks the past few years, including major flooding and up to 100 percent crop losses from Hurricane Sally,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “With enrollment for additional federal disaster assistance opening today, I encourage all impacted producers to contact their county Farm Service Agency office and apply before the deadline, as they replant and rebuild in 2021.”
USDA has developed a disaster assistance discovery tool specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster. USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact USDA offices which meet their individual needs. Producers can find more information on programs and services at farmers.gov.
The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and to help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. The ECP does this by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland or to install methods for water conservation.
The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) helps the owners of non-industrial private forests restore forest health damaged by natural disasters. The EFRP does this by authorizing payments to owners of private forests to restore disaster damaged forests.