Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Rooney to Florida Citrus Growers: ‘The Day Is Finally Here’ for Disaster Relief Plan

May 1, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. –  On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued the framework for the $2.36 billion relief program for Florida citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma. Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL) issued the following statement in response to the plan:

“Over the last seven months, I have worked closely with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam to make sure our growers’ voices were heard in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Putnam, along with Florida’s citrus growers, worked tirelessly with the USDA to ensure that the disaster relief program was implemented effectively and in a way that would provide the citrus industry the resources necessary to recover from Hurricane Irma,” Rooney said. “I appreciate Secretary Sonny Perdue incorporating extensive feedback from the state in order to get this program done as quickly and correctly as possible. This plan is a direct result of this process and I am confident it will give Florida’s citrus industry some financial certainty to get through the next couple of seasons. I believe the program is one we can be proud of. This industry is resilient and I look forward to the day our growers come back stronger than ever.”

Commissioner Putnam met frequently with farmers and growers in Florida to assess the needs of the state’s citrus industry following devastating tree and crop losses after Hurricane Irma. Preliminary estimates found the state’s agriculture industry sustained $2.5 billion in losses from the storm, with the citrus industry taking the biggest hit. Citrus growers took it on the nose — crop losses estimated around 70 percent, totaling $760 million.

The USDA program, titled the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) will provide payments of up to 95 percent of losses for producers with insurance and up to 65 percent for losses for producers without insurance. 

Additionally, a separate block grant — the only block grant in the program — has been established specifically for Florida’s citrus industry. The USDA will provide the state of Florida with $340 million to use for the purpose of keeping the citrus industry alive. 

The state will distribute block grant funds to help growers address the cost of resetting and replacing destroyed and damaged trees, compensate growers for estimated losses to future production, and offset crop insurance costs to ensure stronger protection from storms like Irma in the future.

Farmers and growers can apply for aid directly from the State. For more details on eligibility for the block grant and the WHIP program, click here

“To Commissioner Putnam and Secretary Sonny Perdue: Thank you for your work on behalf of our citrus growers. I believe this program will go a long way in keeping our iconic citrus industry alive and operating in Florida,” Rooney said. “To our farmers and growers: Thank you for your patience. I know you have waited for this day for a very long time. Today you have some certainty about what you can expect from the federal government to help your businesses — and the communities in Florida’s Heartland you support — recover from last year’s storm. I am proud to walk beside you on your road to recovery – and the first step begins now.”