October 9, 2017
On Sept. 10-11 Hurricane Irma ripped through the Sunshine State, damaging structures, uprooting trees, toppling power lines and causing severe flooding. The catastrophic storm was devastating for many areas of the state.
Farmers and ranchers are among the many families who are still repairing or restoring their livelihoods after the storm.
Initial reports from the Florida Department of Agriculture estimate $2.5 billion in agricultural damages.
Danielle Daum said her family’s farm, Happiness Farms, Inc., in Lake Placid, suffered extensive losses as a result of the storm.
“When Hurricane Irma hit, we felt physically ill,” said Daum. “We knew that no matter what path she took, we had the potential to lose so much.”
The 3rd generation caladium and citrus grower was hit hard. Winds of more than115 mph knocked down more than three quarters of the fruit from the citrus trees. Heavy rains flooded acres of caladium fields.
Before Hurricane Irma made landfall, it was going to be a good year for the family business. The citrus crop was abundant and beautiful, despite its constant battle with citrus greening. “Contracts on the fruit had been signed and the harvesting equipment had been delivered to our groves,” said Daum. “You can’t even imagine the feelings we had, knowing that we were going to lose that fruit to the storm and have no path to recovering those losses.”
Florida Farm Bureau knew that the losses incurred by farmers and ranchers across the state were so catastrophic that neither insurance nor federal programs would be enough to cover the needs. To help lessen the impact, the organization established a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for any farmer or rancher who had experienced a Hurricane Irma-inflicted agricultural loss or expense.
Individuals or businesses can make a tax-deductible donation to the fund. Any Florida farmer or rancher is eligible to submit an application for the fund. A proof of loss must be shown before funds can be distributed.
“The Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of our farmers as they struggle to recover from such devastating losses,” stated Daum.