Vice President Mike Pence met employees at Flint River Mills in Bainbridge in October as he surveyed storm damage from Hurricane Michael. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia House approves more farm loans for Hurricane Michael victims

When the General Assembly approved a $470 million package to help Hurricane Michael-ravaged Southwest Georgia last year, lawmakers said it wouldn’t be the last money the state would be forced to spend to help the area.

The state House on Friday voted for a mid-year budget - which runs through June 30 - that adds more loan money for farmers needing help recovering from the storm.

Last year’s storm caused an estimated $2.5 billion in losses. Direct losses for pecan farmers alone were expected to reach $560 million. That includes likely losses for next year’s crop and damage to trees.

The mid-year plan includes $10 million more in loans for agri-businesses looking to recover from Hurricane Michael.

That is on top of $55 million approved during the special session in November.

House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said the state has gone through the $55 million and still has another 100 loan requests. The average loan, he said, has been about $290,000, so the extra money in the mid-year budget would likely be enough for 30-35 more loans.

The House also included about $8 million in insurance money for damaged state assets and worker compensation claims, much of it related to Hurricane Michael. A bill the House is also considering would exempt federal hurricane recovery money from state income taxes.

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