Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday urged the Joint Legislative Budget Commission to approve $340 million in federal block grant funding to help the state’s hurricane-ravaged citrus industry. The money was part of a $2.36 billion disaster-relief package approved by Congress in February.
The state Division of Emergency Management will administer the money, leading to the issue going before the Legislative Budget Commission on Thursday.
“I look forward to the Legislature approving these important funds tomorrow, so we can get this money to our growers,” Scott said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
The money will be available to farmers to replace damaged or destroyed trees, cover future economic losses and help pay the costs of crop insurance. The block grant will be open only to growers who first apply for what is known as the “Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the program opened for signup Monday.
The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, which includes members of the state House and Senate, has authority to make mid-year budget decisions. It is set Thursday to take up the block-grant funding and a number of other budget issues, including $19.2 million for the state Division of Elections to distribute for elections security.