Giving Florida citrus growers more than $2.3 billion to help recover from 2017 hurricanes, the House and Senate passed a $90 billion disaster aid package on Feb. 9. The bill goes to President Trump for his signature.
“We cannot thank the Florida delegation enough for their bi-partisan support of this measure to get citrus growers back on their feet after a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Irma,” Michael Sparks, executive vice president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, said a news release.
On Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma moved through Florida, causing overall fruit loss of 65%, with the southwest part of the state recording 100% fruit loss, according to Florida Citrus Mutual.
“This is a big win for all those who are still struggling to recover from last summer’s devastating storms,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a news release. “For some, the funding in this bill is a light at the end of the tunnel and a major step forward in helping them return to the way life used to be before these storms.”
Lawmakers said that money will help Florida’s citrus growers who sustained more than $760 million in losses due to Hurricane Irma.
In the House, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will have $3.6 billion to help growers, including $2.36 billion for direct payments to citrus producers who suffered hurricane-related losses last year.
“I am glad Congress was able to put politics and partisanship aside and finally deliver a long-awaited lifeline to Florida’s iconic citrus industry,” he said in the release.
Rooney said while many in Florida were able to resume daily life quickly after the storm, the situation facing Florida’s citrus industry “has only grown grimmer.”
Rooney thanked Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for his work in both Florida and Washington to help deliver relief to growers.
“The citrus industry plays such an important role to our economy and communities across the state,” he said. “Today is a great day for Florida.”