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News Release

USDA Preparing Support for Fire-Affected Counties in Florida

Contact:
Janet Wright, Outreach Coordinator
janet.wright@usda.gov

GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 18, 2022 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Florida Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) State Executive Director Deborah Tannenbaum announces Bay, Liberty, Franklin, Gulf and Calhoun counties have received preliminary authorization for the implementation of the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP).

“FSA stands ready to help wildfire-impacted producers get back on their feet,” said Tannenbaum. “Once you are able to safely evaluate the impact on your operation, be sure to contact your local FSA office to timely report all damages and losses and find out about resources available to you.”

EFRP provides financial assistance for non-industrial private forestlands impacted by natural disaster.  Additional counties can be added to this authorization if FSA county offices receive reports of loss from affected landowners.

FSA offices are utilizing Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping to identify existing FSA customers and conducting loss assessment reports to determine timber, crop and physical losses.

Wildfires span multiple counties and are in varying stages of containment. USDA will continue to monitor damage, evaluate loss and prepare to implement disaster programs.

Assistance for Communities
The Emergency Watershed Protection program (EWP), available through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is also offered to alleviate hazards to life and property caused by floods, hurricanes, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters.

“EWP provides immediate assistance to communities to mitigate potential hazards to life and property resulting from the fires and particularly the severe erosion and flooding that can occur after the fire,” said Juan Hernandez, state conservationist for NRCS in Florida. “We can work with a local sponsor to help a damaged watershed so that lives and property are protected while preventing further devastation in the community.”

Public and private landowners are eligible for assistance but must be represented by a project sponsor such as a city, county, conservation district or tribal government who begins the process by sending a letter of request to the Florida NRCS state conservationist within 60 days of the event that includes the nature, location and scope of the problem. Assistance includes financial and technical assistance to remove debris from streams, protect destabilized stream banks and establish cover on critically eroding lands, repair conservation practices, and purchase flood plain easements or eliminate adverse impacts from the natural disaster or to restore projects installed by another federal agency.

More Information
On farmers.gov, the Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.