Hurricane Idalia Resources for Shellfish Growers

Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend region of Florida’s Gulf Coast as a Category 3 storm on August 30, 2023. According to the National Hurricane Center, Idalia brought a storm surge as high as 16 feet and severe winds. Florida’s shellfish growers in Levy and Dixie Counties. What is uncertain is if shellfish growers will be eligible for EQIP to assist in removing obstacles from their leases and restoring submerged lands to pre-storm conditions. We are currently working with the NRCS program leader to determine edibility. The application sign-up deadline is November 17, 2023.

USDA FSA Meeting for Disaster Assistance Programs: NAP, ELAP, ECP, Loans

Join representatives from the USDA FARM SERVICE AGENCY for a discussion on Disaster Assistance Programs: NAP, ELAP, ECP, Loans for the shellfish aquaculture industry. The meeting is Wednesday, September 20 from 1 to 3pm at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, 3rd floor in Cedar Key. You can also join the meeting by Zoom:, Meeting ID: 989 2180 5559, One tap mobile: +13052241968 US, +13092053325, US

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP Program

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can provide assistance, through conservation program contracts, for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) conservation practices to help agricultural landowners and producers address disaster related resource concerns on their land. View the EQUP fact sheet here.

A public webinar held on September 12 provided information on conservation practices offered for financial assistance through the EQIP disaster assistance program. The presentation can be viewed here. EQIP emergency assistance is available in Levy and Dixie Counties. What is uncertain is if shellfish growers will be eligible for EQIP to assist in removing obstacles from their leases and restore submerged lands to pre-storm conditions. We are currently working with the NRCS program leader to determine edibility. Application sign-up deadline is November 17, 2023.

Congresswoman Kat Cammack Recovery Resources

Congresswoman Cammack has compiled resources from Florida Farm Bureau, FDACS, USDA’s Farm Service Agency, and UF/IFAS into a short, two-page document for easy reference, containing important information about filing claims, reporting losses, applying for loans, and contact information for local agencies. Download here. The Congresswoman and staff have toured clam farms in Cedar Key to inspect damages to the shellfish aquaculture industry.  

Florida Farm Bureau Hurricane Relief Fund for Agriculture

In response to losses due to Hurricane Idalia, Florida Farm Bureau has created a fund to assist Florida farm and ranch families recovering from the storm. The Fund will provide support for the recovery from agriculture-related losses. All donations will be tax deductible. Farmers and ranchers impacted by the storm can apply here:  Individuals wishing to contribute to the fund can utilize the same link or can make checks payable to: Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Fund, Memo: Hurricane Idalia Relief for Agriculture, P.O. Box 147030 , Gainesville, FL 32614.

USDA Farm Service Agency Disaster Resources

Florida aquacultural operations significantly impacted by Hurricane Idalia, call the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Producer Hotline: 1-877-508-8364 M-F 8am-8pmfor assistance or email SM.FPAC.FSA.FLFSA.Disaster@USDA.GOV – please indicate the County of loss in the Subject Line. FSA offers a variety of programs to help farmers, communities, and businesses that have been hard-hit by natural disaster events. FSA disaster assistance program benefits: loans (including microloan and emergency loans for access to capital) and assistance for conservation measures, forestry restoration, assistance for livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish, tree assistance and non-insured crops.

The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) helps growers manage risk through coverage for crop losses due to natural disasters. Growers must be enrolled in the program and have purchased coverage for the eligible crop in the crop year in which the loss incurred to receive program benefits following a qualifying natural disaster. Shellfish growers must report crop damage to their local FSA office within 15 days of discovering damage. In Levy and Dixie Counties, contact the FSA office in Trenton at (800) 243-9912 or (352) 463-2358, extension 2. Learn more about NAP.

The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides assistance to growers of farm-raised shellfish for death losses due to an eligible natural disaster event. The ELAP program year is based on the calendar year. Growers must file a notice of loss for farm-raised fish and shellfish within 30 days of when the loss is first apparent (see contact information above). Growers must submit  an application for payment by January 30th after the end of calendar year in which the loss occurred. Forms and Resources: ELAP Factsheet; Acreage report form – should include, grower information, AQ lease name and number, type and size of mollusk, how many containers/bags planted and how many per container/bag per size, separated by planting dates; Documentation requirements; Emergency Loss Assistance form

On, the Hurricane resources webpage,  Disaster Assistance Discovery ToolDisaster Assistance-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Assistance Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For FSA and NRCS programs, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.

SBA Opens Mobile Business Center in Cedar Key

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it will open a Mobile Business Recovery Center on  Wednesday, September 6 through Tuesday, September 12 from 9am to 6pm at the Cedar Key Community Center to assist business owners impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Business owners can meet in-person with specialists to apply for SBA disaster loans and get information on programs designed to help businesses recover. Customer Service Representatives will assist business owners complete their disaster loan application, accept documents for existing applications, and provide updates on an application’s status.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. Interest rates are as low as 4% for businesses, and 2.375% for nonprofit organizations, and 2.5% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition. Interest does not begin to accrue until 12 months from the date of the initial disaster loan disbursement. SBA disaster loan repayment begins 12 months from the date of the initial disbursement.

Disaster survivors should not wait to settle with their insurance company before applying for a disaster loan. If a survivor does not know how much of their loss will be covered by insurance or other sources, SBA can make a low interest disaster loan for the total loss up to its loan limits, provided the borrower agrees to use insurance proceeds to reduce or repay the loan.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at and should apply under SBA declaration # 18118.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or sending an email to Loan applications can also be downloaded from Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Oct. 30, 2023. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 31, 2024.

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was activated by Governor De Santis, making $20 million available for businesses impacted by Hurricane Idalia. Florida small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to visit to apply. Businesses in the following counties, including sole proprietors, are eligible to apply: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Wakulla counties.

The program, administered by FloridaCommerce, provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to Hurricane Idalia. Interested applicants can apply now through October 25, 2023, or until all available funds are expended.

Eligible small businesses may apply for loans of up to $50,000 through the program. Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding, such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources. Loans made under this program are short-term, zero-interest, personal loans using State of Florida funds. They are not grants and loans must be repaid by the approved applicant.

Visit to learn more about the program, view the lending guidelines and required documentation, and complete an application by the October 25, 2023, deadline. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Survey

FDACS’s Division of Aquaculture has created a survey to assess damage to the aquaculture industry from Hurricane Idalia. The survey is for all Aquaculture Certificate of Registration holders and will remain anonymous. The survey for Shellfish Processors requests facility information so that inspectors can make contact, but the information will not be shared otherwise. The survey is estimated to take 10-15 minutes to complete, and information collected could help determine federal disaster relief funding. The surveys will remain open until September 8, 2023, at 5 pm.

Hurricane Idalia Survey for Certificate Holders

Hurricane Idalia Survey for Processors

Other Resources

For a complete listing of Hurricane Idalia Recovery and Response Resources pertaining to:

  1. Volunteer and assistance resources
  2. Marine stakeholder, business, and landowner information
  3. Spotting scams and reporting fraud
  4. Insurance guidance
  5. Beaches and water quality
  6. Displaced/derelict vessels
  7. Navigational hazards
  8. Mold/flood damage & safety
  9. Helpful apps
  10. Mental health assistance
  11. Other notifications

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