Florida citrus growers are urged to make a WHIP appointment—for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program—to discuss eligibility for payments due to damage from Hurricane Irma.
Florida Citrus Mutual and the USDA have been touring Florida these last few weeks to share details of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) with Florida citrus growers. The program is aimed at compensating citrus growers for losses and damages sustained during Hurricane Irma. Growers are being encouraged to make a WHIP appointment and submit an application because the process is an involved on, especially since it concerns a block grant and three different points for compensation, according to a Citrus Industry article. Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks shared the following information about the process, below.
Information on Making a Whip Appointment
“FCM suggests you call your local USDA Farm Service Agency office immediately to set up an appointment to discuss WHIP eligibility.
For a list of FSA offices go to https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=fl&agency=fsa
If your farm is not registered and mapped with FSA you will need to do it to take part in WHIP, so when setting up an appointment inquire about the process. You must be in FSA’s system to take part in the WHIP. There are no AGI provisions in the WHIP program, and growers who receive 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from agriculture will be eligible for up to $900,000 in payments while those deriving less than 75 percent from farming will be capped at $125,000. A grower’s insurance coverage will factor into the WHIP payments with more coverage resulting in higher payments.
In addition to WHIP, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) will manage a block grant program that contains $340 million for citrus growers. There are no AGI or payment limits with the block grant program, other than the Congressional mandate that citrus financial recovery cannot exceed 85% of estimated losses for all insured growers, and 65% losses for uninsured growers.
However, anyone who wants to take part in the block grant relief program must first submit a WHIP application. To prevent duplication, the WHIP data will be used to determine eligibility for the block grant program.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the industry are still working out the details of the block grant program but we know it will have three buckets of funds:
- Compensation for the replanting or rehabilitating trees damaged during Irma, including the cost of new trees and irrigation systems, fertilization and other grove caretaking costs.
- Compensate growers for lost production.
- Two year crop insurance subsidy if you commit to buying 60/100 coverage over the next four years. The programs require growers to buy tree and crop insurance for at least two years. A four year commitment gets the subsidy.
We understand there is a lot of complexity to WHIP and accompanying paperwork. But we believe this is a fair program that will provide the necessary funding to get growers back on their feet in addition to building a foundation for the industry to expand in the coming decade. As more details emerge, we will keep you informed. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
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.