TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) — Agriculture Commissioner, Nickki Fried applauded the signing of an agreement to administer $380.7 million in grant funding to help Florida’s timber industry recover following Hurricane Michael in 2018.
Commissioner Fried had initially announced the awarding of the grant in November 2019, as the first-ever state timber block grants from the USDA.
Commissioner Fried said that the signing of the agreement was long-awaited and a positive step forward for Florida’s timber producers.
“We worked closely with the USDA for nearly a year to secure this relief for our timber industry, which has continued to show extraordinary resilience through wildfires, drought, and other challenges,” Fried said.
Commissioner Fried said they want to get checks in hand and trees in the ground.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Forest Service have been integral to negotiating the agreement. Both will help administer the grant alongside the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Under the agreement, the Florida Forest Service will provide technical assistance to individual landowners in the affected area, and personnel will work with timber producers to verify their timber loss and help landowners document their loss.
Timber producers may expect to receive funding as soon as this fall. The funding will provide relief for both producers and farmers whose irrigation infrastructure was damaged by Hurricane Michael.