Hurricane Irma was the first major hurricane to strike Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and, because of its massive size, every Florida County was affected in one way or another. For those in our industry who suffered heavy crop losses and damage, my heart goes out to you. The consensus I get from most farms is that, although it hurt, it could have been so much worse and for having missed that bullet we are extremely thankful.
At a recent meeting with the USDA Farm Service Agency, a few new policies were brought to my attention. While the old NAP program is still in place, and has not changed, there is also a new “Buy Up” program for NAP which allows for much greater coverage on lost crops. With this program there is a $125,000 payout limitation, with a premium cap of $6563; however, individual premiums will depend on the buy out percentage of price you choose, as well as what your farm’s 3 year profit average is. Although at this point it is too late to buy this coverage for the 2017-2018 year, I suggest investigating your options with the program for your 2018-2019 crops. Furthermore, farms which fall into certain categories only have to pay 50% of the coverage premium (eg. 50% of $6563). One of those categories are farm’s which are majority owned by a minority: this includes women. That is a significant savings. Another policy I learned about is that all fish and plants grown in greenhouses and buildings are covered by NAP, not only those fish grown in outdoor ponds; which was my previous understanding. Therefore, those operations who produce a substantial amount of their crop in greenhouses and buildings are now also able to purchase the NAP insurance. Lastly, funds have been made available for farms affected by Hurricane Irma to help farm operations, with clean up and debris removal, fencing repair to keep out predators, and the repair of conservation structures such as culverts, ponds banks, and retention ditches. Please contact your local Farm Service Agency to learn more about these programs.
FTFFA was well represented at this year’s Aquatic Experience 2017, in Chicago, by Dustin Drawdy and Brittany Hollon. It was another record breaking year with over 10,000 attendees passing through our great wall of fish, showing off Florida’s finest, at the FTFFA booth. These fish and plants where generously donated by 23 Florida farms and placed in a magnificent aquarium display provided by Dutch Aquarium Systems. As always, our objective in this exhibit was to promote the aquarium hobby and show that the “Best Ornamental Fish come from Florida.” You can take a look at our display in the short video which Mike Drawdy put together and posted to our FTFFA Facebook page. I would also like to say thank you to SouthWest Airlines for so generously transporting all of the fish to the show, free of charge, as well as their kind donation of two tickets for our FTFFA representatives who manned the booth. I am already excited about next year’s Aquatic Experience to be held in New Jersey.
As this is the last newsletter of the year, I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Prosperous 2018.