USDA emergency aid available for farmers and ranchers in Okeechobee, Indian River, St, Lucie and Martin counties

Florida – Tuesday, October 18, 2022: Okeechobee, Indian River, St, Lucie, and Martin counties are all eligible for USDA EQIP emergency assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) can provide payments, through conservation program contracts, to help landowners and agricultural producers put disasters back on their land.

NRCS State Ecologist Juan Hernandez announced that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is issuing early start waivers in EQIP emergency declaration counties to expedite the recovery from the Hurricane Ian disaster and to allow the start of key conservation practices prior to the approval of conservation program contracts.

Twenty-eight Florida counties have been identified for EQIP emergency assistance: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, indian riverLake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, OkeechobeeOrange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. LUCIAand Volusa.

Agricultural producers and landowners interested in submitting an EQIP application and who cannot reach their local NRCS office can contact the state NRCS office at (352) 338-9500 or email SM.NRCS [email protected] to submit the following information:

  • Location where assistance is requested (county, city and major intersection)
  • Contact name and email address
  • Telephone number (indicate if mobile/mobile; capable of receiving calls and/or SMS)
  • Nature of need for assistance

“The USDA remains committed to helping Florida farmers in every way possible. We can help local farmers repair the damage to their land and existing conservation practices caused by Hurricane Ian,” Hernandez said. “Through EQIP, we can help farmers repair and prevent soil erosion, as well as address water quality or other resource issues resulting from heavy rainfall and floods.”
Additional EQIP emergency assistance guidelines:

  • An early start waiver is not a guarantee of payment for the conservation program.
  • Approval of the waiver is conditional on work not commencing on the conservation practices prior to the date this waiver was approved.
  • Producers are encouraged to file an EQIP application and waiver before commencing an EQIP conservation practice. Producers can submit their responses to requests by email or telephone.
  • Conservation practices must meet NRCS standards and specifications for the producer or landowner to receive payment.
  • EQIP conservation practices proposed for financial assistance are listed below:

Additional Resources:

* Program to encourage the quality of the environment: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/fl/programs/financial/eqip/

* Florida NRCS Field Office Locator: https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=F

* Florida NRCS: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/fl/home/

The USDA can also help local government sponsors with the cost of recovery efforts such as debris removal and shoreline stabilization to address natural resource concerns and risks through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

On farmers.govthe Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool , Disaster Assistance Fact Sheet at a Glance (PDF, 1.4 MB) and Agricultural Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine programs or loan options.

For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their USDA Service Center .

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) also stands ready to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and stands ready to respond to requests for assistance from states and local authorities, to supply emergency nutritional aid to people in need.

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