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USDA declares Secretarial Disaster Declaration for Leon, Gadsden counties

Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for a...
Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for a number of counties in the Florida panhandle, including Leon County and Gadsden County.(KMVT)
Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 8:44 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for a number of counties in the Florida panhandle, including Leon County and Gadsden County.

This declaration comes after Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried made a request for a Secretarial Disaster Declaration for several counties impacted by Hurricane Sally, which made landfall in September.

“This Secretarial disaster declaration is welcome news for our Panhandle farmers who have been long waiting for help following Hurricane Sally,” Commissioner Fried said in the press release. “In the immediate days following the storm we began asking the USDA to issue these declarations, making available much-needed Farm Service Agency assistance for producers, some of whom lost 100 percent of their crops. I thank Secretary Perdue for helping our North Florida producers who have been through so much since 2018 begin to rebuild and replant following this latest natural disaster.”

The Secretarial Disaster Declaration named Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson and Washington Counties as primary disaster areas related to the hurricane, as well as Bay, Gulf, Leon, Liberty and Walton as contiguous counties.

As a result of this declaration, access to Farm Service Agency disaster loans for agriculture producers will now be available. Farmers in these counties will have eight months, beginning Dec. 22, to apply for emergency loans.

“FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator,” according to the press release.

Hurricane Sally, a Category 2 storm, unleashed nearly thirty inches of rain across the Florida panhandle, flooded hundreds of thousands of acres of farms and caused up to 100 percent of crop loss in some cases.

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