Grants to come as soon as this fall for timber producers impacted by Hurricane Michael

Agriculture Commission Nikki Fried said the timber industry lost $1.3 billion in crops after Hurricane Michael. (WJHG/WECP)
Agriculture Commission Nikki Fried said the timber industry lost $1.3 billion in crops after Hurricane Michael. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 6:09 PM CDT
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Timber farmers who were impacted by Hurricane Michael could see more financial relief this fall.

Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to give $380.7 million in grant money for Florida's timber industry.

"My administration has been working tirelessly to secure this agreement for timber producers in Northwest Florida," said Governor DeSantis. “[Thursday], we are another step closer to providing much-needed relief to those still feeling the impacts of Hurricane Michael. I look forward to continue working with the USDA to develop a comprehensive plan that will maximize benefits for our farmers.”

"In response to COVID-19, we have been running the largest operation in our state’s history, and still, we’ve been able to stay focused on hurricane recovery, paying out more than $444 million since March 15,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Jared Moskowitz. “Overall, since January 2019, we’ve been able to pay out more than $2.4 billion for hurricane recovery, including $250 million for citrus farmers recovering from Hurricane Irma. We’ll be able to use this success to ensure we are administering this long-overdue funding for timber farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael as efficiently as possible.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said timber is the leading industry in the Florida panhandle and lost $1.3 billion in crops after Hurricane Michael. She said about 550 million trees, weighing 72 million tons were damaged or destroyed by the storm.

The governor's office says this agreement establishes parameters and defines guidelines for the state to implement the program. They say timber producers will begin getting money as soon as this fall. The agreement includes relief for all types of timber producers, as well as farmers who have damaged irrigation systems.

State officials will now work with the USDA to create a plan to distribute these funds. To prepare, agricultural producers in Northwest Florida can start collecting planting records, photographic evidence from the storm, and apply to the

. FDEM will conduct community outreach to ensure timber producers have the information they need.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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