In the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided programs and made efforts that give assistance to the communities, farmers, families, and small businesses that were affected by the great storm.
These efforts were a step in the right direction and the entire department, including state and country offices, were more than eager to extend help to those in need.
In their official press release, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue said in his statement: “In recent weeks, millions of Americans have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and the wildfires in the west. USDA employees have been working tirelessly and will continue to stand ready to help those in need. As we head down the path to recovery, I am encouraged by the resilience of America’s farmers, ranchers and the American people as a whole that we can come together and get through this trying time.”
In connection, the USDA Operations Center continues to work hard with their recovery efforts for both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. They also partnered with different disaster-focused organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to create a central source of information for disaster-related sources.
A lot of USDA Rural Development programs helps the rural communities hit by these natural disasters by providing them financial relief. This is through providing low-interest loans to the rural community facilities, business, utilities, and cooperatives.
Other than that, they also provide hardship application processing for the rural single family housing. And as for the next multi-family housing units under the disaster-stricken areas, the USDA Rural Development can give out priority letters.
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Food Safety and Assistance
Since the possibility of power outages in disaster-stricken areas during Hurricane Irma can compromise food safety, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) gave out food safety tips to minimize the risk of various foodborne illnesses.
For the USDA Food Nutrition Service (FNS), they are partnering with organizations to provide food for evacuees in shelters and in mass feeding sites.
And in connection, the USDA approved a temporary waiver last Tuesday that allows participants in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, especially in the United States Virgin Islands.
“The waiver USDA approved for the U.S. Virgin Islands will help ensure that people participating in SNAP can get the food they need,” Perdue said. “Process and paperwork should take a back seat in challenging times like the folks in the Virgin Islands are experiencing in the aftermath of this devastating storm.”
The USDA also made efforts to grant farmers and ranchers who were affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey some extra time for procedures and to document their losses from in the wake of the disaster.
“The impact is shocking and will be felt for many months,” said Secretary Perdue. “In addition to efforts being made on the ground to assist producers, we have taken a hard look at our regular reporting requirements and adjusted them so producers can take care of pressing needs first and mostly deal with documentation and claims later. President Trump’s directive is to help people first and deal with paperwork second. And that’s what USDA is doing.”
Other than that, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is authorizing some emergency procedures by assisting borrowers, livestock owners, contract growers and other procedures on a case-to-case basis.Know more about USDA loans through our lenders here.