The Florida Legislature met for a special session Nov. 6-9 and voted on legislation to provide recovery assistance for Florida farmers and ranchers.
The legislation was sponsored by Representative Jason Shoaf (District 7) and Senator Corey Simon (District 3) and focuses on providing recovery assistance to counties impacted by Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall on the Big Bend Gulf coast near Keaton Beach in Taylor County on Aug. 30. The storm caused over $447 million in estimated agricultural losses for Florida’s producers, according to a preliminary report by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
House Bill 1-C, passed during the 2023 Special Session C, allocates $75 million for a program offering agriculture and aquaculture producers low-interest or interest-free loans. It would also provide $37.5 million in aid to impacted timber owners for tree replanting.
Additionally, the proposal would offer tax incentives for agricultural equipment that was unusable during the two months following the storm, as well as tax breaks for re-fencing, construction materials for post-Idalia repairs and fuel utilized in agricultural shipments and debris removal.
According to the bill’s timeline, and upon the signature of the bill by the governor, FDACS will open the application process for impacted producers within 60 days.
Many Florida Farm Bureau members attended the special session to speak in favor of the legislation and on behalf of the affected farm and ranch families in the area.