Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued an official declaration today designating 60 Florida counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by record cold weather. Frosts and freezes occurred Jan. 2-14.


Those counties are Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus Collier, Columbia, De Soto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee,Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Volusia, Wakulla and Washington.

The confrirmation came in a letter addressed to Gov. Charlie Crist Jan. 29.

This designation makes farm operators in both primary and contiguous counties eligible to be considered for assistance from Farm Service Agency, if they quality. The assistance includes FSA emergency loans and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, which was part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Crist had requested that 67 counties be designated. But Vilsack trimmed it down to 60 because seven of them didn't meet USDA criteria.

Nevertheless, those counties—Clay, Escambia, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Seminole and Walton—will still be eligible because they are contiguous to those counties that were declared disaster areas.

Contact your local FSA office for more details.