Matt Joyner, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), reported that a group of Florida citrus growers spoke to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency representatives about federal relief programs at the recent Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo.
The Expo was held this year at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. “This year’s Expo had a refreshed and re-energized atmosphere, which was a perfect match for the general feeling of cautious optimism around the industry right now,” Joyner said. “The AgNet Media team did a great job and should be commended.”
After the Expo, Joyner shared the following update on federal relief programs, including the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) for 2020–21 disasters, the Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP), the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and the ERP for 2022 disasters.
Phase Two of ERP for 2020–21 disasters is most likely oversubscribed, and applications are still being reviewed. Available funds will likely be prorated to stretch relief further to more eligible applicants. Growers may be able to receive up to $2,000 upon approval of program applications. Final payments will be issued once the prorated amount is determined this fall.
PARP is also oversubscribed. Therefore, payments may also be prorated. Once applications are reviewed and the prorated factor is determined, payments should be released late this fall.
ERP for 2022 disasters is expected to be oversubscribed. USDA expects to send letters to growers with crop insurance and/or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) insurance by the end of September. The letters will announce the opportunity to enroll and include a listing of eligible crops, units applicable to track one and how to submit applications. There will be two tracks with the implementation of ERP, which are expected to be simultaneous. Track one is for insured and/or NAP insured, and track two is for those without insurance or NAP, as well as those in track one with remaining needs. Initial payments are expected to begin in October. Once all eligible applications are processed, USDA will send a final payment based on the availability of funds.
ECP payments should begin to be distributed mid-September. Growers already may be receiving letters and documents for review and concurrently documenting the eligible payment amount.
FCM continues to communicate to USDA the industry’s critical need for relief funds as the new citrus harvest season begins and growers seek to recover from 2022 hurricanes. FCM is also working with the congressional delegation to advocate for the passage of the Block Grant Assistance Act in the Senate and is hopeful to have it included in the supplemental funding bill the Biden Administration sent to Congress this month, should it pass.
Source: Florida Citrus Mutual