Crews from the Georgia Forestry Commission help with cleanup after Hurricane Michael struck South Georgia in October.
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia House pushes 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 will vote on 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 Georgia House’s budget committee voted Thursday for a mid-year plan that 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 pretty much 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 committee 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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