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Sunshine State News: Florida Leaders Keep Pounding USDA For Disaster Declaration

Feb 3, 2011 | News

Florida’s political leaders are continuing to pressure the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), hoping that more than half of the state will be declared as a disaster area due to the inclement weather.

At the end of December, in his final days as governor, then-Gov. Charlie Crist sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking that 35 of the state’s 67 counties be included in a USDA Secretarial Emergency Declaration. Floridians whose crops or livestock were impacted by the cold weather could be eligible for various federal programs, including loans, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and other agencies if Vilsack makes such a declaration.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Vilsack asking him to include Volusia County on the list due to freeze and frost suffered in December that will impact the 2011 crops.

Most members of Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Vilsack Thursday backing the requests made first by Crist and later by Scott.

“The agriculture community is vital to Florida’s economy and a disaster declaration is necessary to help this important industry recover from December’s severe weather,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Rubio signed the letter. So did the following U.S. representatives: Jeff Miller, Steve Southerland, Corrine Brown, Ander Crenshaw, Rich Nugent, Cliff Stearns, John Mica, Dan Webster, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Young, Dennis Ross, Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack, Bill Posey, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mario Diaz-Balart, Allen West, Alcee Hastings, Sandy Adams and David Rivera.

Read the full story here.