WASHINGTON D.C.—Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-18) today announced the House passed his bill, H.R. 662, the Block Grant Assistance Act. This critical bill provides needed authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue block grants to agriculture producers devastated by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole.
“The Florida citrus industry is synonymous with the Sunshine State and the backbone of many of our rural communities,” Rep. Franklin said. “Extreme hurricane seasons, ongoing trade disadvantages and invasive diseases have forced citrus growers to navigate significant challenges. I’m pleased the House acted to provide needed support so Americans can continue to enjoy the staples our domestic citrus industry provides.”
“The loss and devastation caused by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole has forever changed communities across our state and the lives of so many Florida families and businesses. Folks in the Sunshine State are still picking up the pieces, and I’ve continued to work closely with USDA, FEMA and SBA to ensure they remain a top priority during this time of recovery. As we work to get the citrus and agriculture community back on their feet, I won’t stop fighting to make sure that the federal government keeps showing up. I applaud Congressman Franklin getting our Block Grant Assistance Act passed in the House. This legislation is a step in the right direction to ensure Florida’s agriculture industry gets the help they need, and I urge its immediate passage in the Senate,” said Senator Rick Scott.
“I applaud the effectiveness of the Florida delegation led by Rep. Franklin. They sent a powerful message with a strong unanimous voice to protect Florida agriculture and connect them with much-needed relief. Producing our own food is key to our national security, and I thank our delegation for their support,” said Wilton Simpson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture
“Back-to-back major storms in 2022 only compounded the challenges facing Florida growers who are already struggling to make a comeback,” said Matt Joyner, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “I am pleased that thanks to Representative Franklin the House acted to provide authority for this much-needed relief.
More than 90 percent of all Florida citrus production was impacted by hurricanes in 2022, totaling 375,302 acres. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services expects these devastating losses to cost the industry as much as $675 million. Florida citrus generates $6.8 billion in annual revenue and supports 33,000 jobs.
In 2018, Congress gave USDA the authority to issue block grants to states to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. In conjunction with the USDA Farm Service Agency, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Citrus Recovery Block Grant (CRBG) Program was created to support citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma. The CRBG program was widely successful in aiding the Florida citrus industry.
Full text of the Block Grant Assistance Act can be accessed by clicking here.
Organizations supporting H.R. 662 include: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Wilton Simpson, Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Citrus Mutual and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.