Hurricane Irma ripped right through most of Central Florida, through the heart of agricultural production in our state. I am sure that most agricultural commodities, including our blueberries, will feel the impact from this large, destructive storm.
I have heard reports of lost leaves, flooded fields, and plants blown out their beds. One large grower had 125 acres of plants blown over by Irma’s fierce winds.
How will this affect our production next spring? I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer other than we will probably harvest less fruit, how much less is the unknown.
This is why it is extremely important for every grower who had damage, even the smallest damage, to report this information to their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Then, if there is a reduction in production, the FSA can tie that reduction to Irma as a weather event and opportunities for insurance claims and maybe disaster declarations and relief programs may become available.
If you lost 10 percent of your leaves, will you lose 10 percent of production? If your field was flooded for a few days or a week how will this impact yields? If you had some of your plants blown over and the roots exposed for a few days, will the plants be stunted or die? No one knows the answers to these questions, but if you report this damage to FSA, and if you have a loss in production, then help may be available.
If you don’t report your damage, then we could find ourselves in the same position as two years ago when under reporting caused us to lose millions of dollars in assistance for what was truly a disastrous season.
Below is a list of contact information for you to reach out to your local USDA Farm Service Agency. If your county is not listed below, then scan the QR code here with your smartphone or tablet to find the FSA office nearest your agriculture operation.
There are programs in place to help now. Did you know that there is immediate assistance available to re-set damaged trees? Information on how to apply for this aid is on page 26.
Agriculture folks are a resilient bunch and we have faced tough times before. I am certain that we will all persevere, innovate, and work our tails off to get past this challenge.
Last, but not least, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the upcoming FBGA Fall Meeting and Trade Show on October 26. You can get all the details about it on page 36, and register at FloridaBlueberryGrowers.com. To find out more about some of the topics that will be on the table during presentation sessions, turn to page 11. I look forward to seeing you all at the fall meeting.
I wish everyone the best in these tough times and I have confidence that we will come through this stronger and smarter.
President, Florida Blueberry Growers Association
FLORIDA STATE OFFICE – USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY
|4440 NW 25TH PL|
|GAINESVILLE, FL 32606-6563|
|(352) 379-4580 Fax|
State Executive Director
(352) 379-4580 fax
PASCO COUNTY FARM SERVICE AGENCY
|30435 COMMERCE DR, STE 103|
|SAN ANTONIO, FL 33576-8003|
County Executive Director
(352) 588-5211 ext 2
(855) 563-2118 fax
|POLK COUNTY FARM SERVICE AGENCY|
|1700 HWY 17 S|
|BARTOW, FL 33830|
County Executive Director
(855) 475-8047 fax