By Lena Juarez
Florida Agritourism Association
We heard from several of you over the past few days regarding damage sustained from Hurricane Michael. Thank you for responding to our Facebook post about the status of your agritourism operation and farm.
If you were not directly impacted by the hurricane, we hope you will consider volunteering or sharing resources with those who have suffered devastating losses.
A critical concern is the health of our many beehives in the counties impacted by Hurricane Michael. Nearly 50,000 hives will die without an emergency food source like high-fructose corn syrup and pollen supplement immediately. We are working with all of our government contacts for funding, but there are so many immediate needs.
We know that many of you are giving a lot toward the relief effort. Losing these hives will not only impact beekeepers and honey production. Honeybees pollinate over 70 percent of all other Florida agriculture crops, meaning that the loss of this many hives could impact agriculture production for years.
Please help us help the beekeepers through this GoFundMe account. Any donation is welcomed! https://www.gofundme.com/SaveTheNorthFloridaBees
Hurricane Recovery Resources for Farms and Agritourism Operations
There are many resources available to you in the aftermath of the storm. We will continuing updating you as additional resources become available.
Please keep in mind that opportunistic scammers often attempt to defraud Floridians following natural disasters. Be vigilant in guarding against fraud and report any suspicious activity to the Office of Insurance Regulation at 877-693-5246.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a link on its website with resources for disaster recovery. Go to https://www.farmers.gov/recover. You can learn about USDA disaster assistance programs that might be right for you by answering the questions at https://www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-assistance-tool#step-1.
FEMA offers business and farm loans to people who have suffered damage to business property or experienced economic injury. Visit https://www.fema.gov/what-do-if-your-business-or-farm-was-damaged.
Florida farmers and ranchers affected by a hurricane may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service. Visit irs.gov for details.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency has some helpful information that may be found at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/disaster-assistance-program. This site includes information on disaster assistance programs and links to information on farmland damage and crop losses.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program (https://www.floridadisaster.biz/ManageContent?PageID=SMALL+BUSINESS+EMERGENCY+BRIDGE+LOAN) has been activated to provide cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The Department of Economic Opportunity administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network. This is a short-term, interest-free, working-capital loan intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer-term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.
Businesses also are encouraged to visit https://floridadisaster.biz to learn about other resources available.
If you are in a position to volunteer, please go to www.volunteerflorida.org or call 800-FL-HELP-1.
Financial support to established relief organizations is always the most immediate, useful and versatile way to give. To donate to the Florida Disaster Fund, Florida’s official fund for disaster response, text DISASTER to 20222 to contribute $10, or visit FloridaDisasterFund.org.
Additionally, contact the charitable organization of your choice through the National Voluntary Agencies Active in Disasters (NVOAD) at www.nvoad.org.
As always, we thank you for your continued support of agritourism and wish each of you luck in your recovery efforts. Please contact us at 850-254-5355 or visitfloridafarms.com if we can assist you need other information or have questions.