However, that’s “not a realistic time frame” for when the money will reach farmers, said state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Julie McPeake, who also added that the dollar figure hasn’t been finalized.
The state will be responsible for distributing the funds and the process is very involved, McPeake said. “A lot of work needs to be done to where we can be set up to take applications” from farmers. She said she couldn’t estimate when farmers will receive the money.
Efforts to reach spokespeople for the USDA and Bishop’s office were unsuccessful Friday afternoon.
Hurricane Michael struck Oct. 10, 2018 and caused more than $2.5 billion in damage to Georgia's agriculture industry alone, according to University System of Georgia estimates. After months of political rancor, Congress approved a more than $19 billion aid package for a variety of natural disasters, including Michael. In mid October, the USDA began distributing a portion of that aid to Georgia farmers. By the end of the month, it had distributed in Georgia about $5.5 million under the continuing program. The block grants just announced by USDA also would come from the $19 billion-plus approved earlier this year.
“Natural disasters dealt producers some hefty blows in the past couple of years,” Perdue said in a press release. “This relief complements USDA’s tool chest of disaster assistance programs and crop insurance. In many cases, these special programs help us better reach producers who suffered substantial losses beyond what our regular programs cover. While we can’t make producers whole, we can give them a helping hand to get back on their feet and prepare for next year’s planting and harvest.”