How Florida Citrus Growers Can Prepare for Hurricane Recovery

Citrus growers in Florida are eligible for both WHIP and a block grant to serve as relief for Hurricane Irma damage.

 

Florida ag took a hit from Hurricane Irma in September of 2012, with citrus growers sustaining a lot of damage. Coupled with the long-term damage of citrus greening, Florida citrus growers are in dire need of assistance. The powers that be are working to get relief into growers’ hands, and there are two federal options at the moment: eligibility for the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) program and a block grant announced by U.S. Ag Commissioner Sonny Perdue for $340 million, according to a Growing Produce article. See details below about recommendations for what growers can do to get ready to apply.

Steps for Citrus Growers to Take

 

According to the article, the funding totals $3.26 million through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). The funds are geared towards

Reimbursing costs associated with returning the operation to pre-hurricane state: buying and planting replacement trees, resets, grove rehabilitation, and repair of damage to irrigation systems.

Per the article, WHIP aid details are as follows:

  • “Hurricane Recovery: To be eligible a crop, tree, bush or vine must be located in a primary disaster county with either a Presidential declaration or a Secretarial designation due to a 2017 hurricane. Crops, trees, bushes or vines located in other counties may also be eligible if the producer provides documentation the loss was caused by a 2017 hurricane.
  • Wildfire Recovery: Any crop, tree, bush or vine, damaged by a 2017 wildfire is eligible.
  • Eligible Producers: Eligibility will be determined on an individual basis, using the level of insurance coverage purchased for 2017 for the total crop acres on the area for which the WHIP application is made. Eligible producers who certify to an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of at least 75% derived from farming or ranching, including other agriculture and forestry-based businesses during the tax years 2013, 2014 and 2015, will be eligible for a $900,000 payment limitation with verification. All other eligible producers requesting 2017 WHIP benefits will be subject to a $125,000 payment limitation.
  • Crop Insurance Requirement: Both insured and uninsured producers are eligible to apply for WHIP. However, all producers opting to receive 2017 WHIP payments will be required to purchase crop insurance at the 60% coverage level, or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) at the 60% buy up coverage level if crop insurance is not available. Coverage must be in place for the next two applicable crop years to meet program requirements.
  • Acreage Reporting Requirements: In addition, for the applicable crop years, all producers are required to file an acreage report and report production (if applicable).
  • Payment Formula: FSA will calculate WHIP payments with this formula: Payment = Expected Value of the Crop x WHIP Factor – Value of Crop Harvested – Insurance Indemnity.”

The article also included advice from Ray Royce, Executive Director of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, for citrus growers:

“1) Making sure your farm records with FSA are current and up to date.
2) Working through your records, hurricane loss documentation, etc. in order to determine what you expected your crop size (and ultimate revenue stream) to be on Sept. 10, 2017.”

He added that “It is not clear what type of documentation will be required to determine the first value to be utilized in the payment calculation, but if you had insurance and the adjusters accepted a “certain loss rate number” that would probably be a good factor.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.