Nov 8, 2023
USDA declares Hurricane Idalia disaster area for Georgia growers

Nearly 30 counties in southeast Georgia are eligible for disaster assistance from damage caused by Hurricane Idalia, which struck the state on Aug. 30.

The storm damaged state fruit, vegetable and pecan production, groves and operations.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has issued a disaster declaration for 27 Georgia counties to cover damage and losses caused by the hurricane. The declaration allows farmers, producers and other eligible agricultural operations to apply for emergency disaster relief through the Farm Service Agency.

The counties include southwest and south-central Georgia along the Florida state line to the counties in the Vidalia sweet onion growing region. In these interior, non-coastal counties, Southern vegetables including bell peppers, cucumbers and squash as well as blueberries, peaches, pecans and other fruit and vegetables.

The counties are home to more than 7,800 agricultural operations farming more than 2.3 million acres with a farmgate value of more than $3.5 billion, according to a news release from the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA).

The total economic loss caused by Hurricane Idalia is still being calculated by the Farm Service Agency and UGA Extension.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of Hurricane Idalia.

Federal funding is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in these counties. Lastly, Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Primary Counties: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brantley, Brooks, Bulloch, Candler, Clinch, Coffee, Cook, Echols, Evans, Irwin, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Montgomery, Pierce, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Toombs, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler

Contiguous Counties: Bryan, Camden, Charlton, Colquitt, Dodge, Effingham, Emanuel, Glynn, Grady, Jenkins, Laurens, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Mitchell, Screven, Tift, Treutlen, Turner, Wilcox

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service, or others, can give FEMA the number for that service.

“Hurricane Idalia caused significant damage to agricultural operations across South Central and Southeast Georgia, and I am glad to see that USDA has expanded their initial disaster declaration to include these additional counties,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper said in the release. “Our team at the Georgia Department of Agriculture will continue our work alongside federal, state, and local leaders to assist our communities as they rebuild and rebound stronger than before.”

GDA licenses and regulates approximately 6,700 entities across the counties including livestock and poultry operations, retail grocery stores, meat processing facilities, gas stations and animal shelters.




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