Governor Ron DeSantis today announced that the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has approved more than $77 million in payments to citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma through the Citrus Recovery Block Grant since January 2019.
Upon taking office, Governor DeSantis directed FDEM to disburse hurricane recovery funding as quickly as possible, including providing field staff to assist citrus growers in navigating the grant process. The Governor announced hitting the $77 million mark while delivering remarks at the 19th Annual Florida Citrus Industry Conference Luncheon.
“The health of Florida’s iconic citrus industry is vital to our state’s economy,” said Governor DeSantis. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to step up to the plate and get funding to our citrus growers who are still recovering from Hurricane Irma. I look forward to continuing to work with the citrus industry and our federal partners to ensure we continue to expedite the release of these funds.”
“When I took over as the FDEM Director, Florida’s citrus recovery program was broken,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “By working with our partners in the citrus industry and the federal government, Governor DeSantis made it a top priority to get this program back on track. Since January, we’ve fixed this system and approved more than $77 million for Florida’s citrus industry.”
“As a proud member of Florida’s agricultural community, I am grateful to Governor DeSantis’ focus on Florida’s citrus industry,” said Senator Wilton Simpson, a Pasco County citrus grower. “With an annual economic impact of more than $8 billion dollars, Florida’s citrus growers’ contributions to our economy mean jobs for our people and prosperity for their communities.”
“Governor DeSantis is the real deal when it comes to focusing on problems and moving the ball to solve them!” said Senator Ben Albritton. “Today’s announcement exemplifies the dedication we’ve seen from this administration to make sure every citrus grower impacted by Hurricane Irma recovers from this devastating storm.”
“On behalf of Florida’s entire citrus industry, Florida Citrus Mutual applauds Governor DeSantis for his commitment to supporting our growers,” said Mike Sparks, Executive Vice President and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “We look forward to continuing to work with Governor DeSantis and his administration to support citrus growers across Florida still recovering from Hurricane Irma. This investment will help us rebuild and remain a strong economic engine.”
“Officials estimated more than 420,000 acres of citrus groves in Florida were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma, resulting in more than $760 million in total losses,” said Tom Mitchell, Vice-President of Riverfront Packing in Vero Beach and President of the Florida Citrus Mutual Board. “Florida’s citrus growers are resilient, and we’ve worked hard to rebuild, revive and replant our groves. We’re grateful for Governor DeSantis’ support for Florida’s signature crop. With this much-needed hurricane relief, I’m confident we’ll come back stronger than ever.”
The Citrus Recovery Block Grant is a $340 million federal grant administered by FDEM to assist citrus producers who maintain active citrus farming operations and suffered citrus crop damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.