Representatives ask feds for disaster declaration

Florida politicians want a disaster declaration issued for counties in Florida that suffered record low temperatures from January 29-31, severely damaging crops.

On Wednesday, 25 of Florida’s U.S. representatives along with both senators signed a letter directed to Tom Vilsack, secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The letter asked Vilsack to grant Florida’s request for a USDA Disaster Declaration. If issued, the declaration would allow impacted farmers to access federal support.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 30 counties due to the crop damage.

U.S. Reps. Neal Dunn and Kat Cammack signed onto the effort.

“Florida farmers play a pivotal role in our nation’s agriculture industry,” Dunn said in a press release. “Unfortunately, recent freezing temperatures in our state have significantly affected producers, as they continue to confront the disruptions created by ongoing supply chain issues.”

The letter explained the vital nature of Florida’s agriculture. The industry earned $7.8 billion in 2019, including livestock, commodities and citrus.

“What’s more, this freeze occurred at a critical time in the year for the development of our state’s crops,” the letter said. “Initial reports have shown significant losses of fruit and vegetable crops and our state’s citrus producers have also recorded potentially serious damage.”

The letter said farmers need more assistance than the state of emergency from DeSantis provides.

“As one of our state’s leading economic drivers, we know how important Florida agriculture is to the Sunshine State and the nation,” Cammack said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support of this bipartisan effort to make sure Florida’s farmers receive the necessary aid to recover from this historic freeze.”

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