As farmers and ranchers in Florida prepare to assess damages from Hurricane Ian, the American Farm Bureau Federation is sharing the many programs available to help. AFBF Government Affairs Director RJ Layher says the region is a vital agricultural resource.
“Well, the hurricane came in at a category four landing there on Southwest Florida around Fort Myers, it continued across Florida’s Heartland. You have significant amounts of cattle, significant amounts of citrus, specialty crops in there. The waters still haven’t gone down. There’ll be a day or two before we can really assess the impacts of what the damages are to the trees, to the vines, make sure all the cattle are accounted for.”
Layher says it’s important to begin the conversation with insurance agents now.
“When the producers go out and notice that they’ve got a loss they need to contact their insurance agent within 72 hours. So, I would suggest even if producers haven’t been able to go out and assess everything to get ahold of their agent and file that notice of loss right now. That’ll get the claims process going, that’ll get the inspectors out. Hurricane Insurance Protection Wind Index, which RMA brought online in 2020 for producers, that was widely utilized. So, hopefully we’ve got our risk management tools in place for our producers to rely on when they need it most.”
Layher says even if farmers and ranchers weren’t impacted by this storm, it serves as a reminder of several other programs from the Department of Agriculture to help recover after a natural disaster.
“Some other things that are available to producers are going to be the Livestock Indemnity Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybee, Farm Raised Fish program. Those programs are available through FSA. There’s also the Tree Assistance Program, cost share assistance to rehabilitate orchards and vineyards. We also have through NRCS the Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration program. if any producers out there have any more questions about it, go to your local county FSA office or NRCS office and inquire.”