Ag Commissioner Pate: Alabama farmers, foresters still awaiting federal Hurricane Michael disaster relief nearly a year after storm
Last year, Hurricane Michael left its mark on the countryside in southeastern Alabama and especially impacted that portion of the state’s agriculture and forestry sectors. Earlier this year, Congress finally passed a disaster relief supplemental to aid those impacted by Hurricane Michael.
Despite President Donald Trump having signed that bill into law, Alabama’s farmers and foresters still have not received aid from the federal government according to Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate.
Pate detailed that ordeal during an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN earlier this week.
“We’ve been real disappointed in that,” Pate said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “That actually happened last November. And so, we still haven’t gotten any money, disaster relief for any of our farmers or any of our people, forestry folks in that area, you know? Our two or three counties down there got his as hard as anywhere. As far as Georgia, you had a lot more counties. We had asked for a certain amount. I think we’ll probably get it, but our stakeholders came to us and said for us to ask for it in a block grant instead of letting the USDA. They said they thought we could be more efficient and quicker. And so, we’ve been sort of struggling. Asking the USDA, we felt like the Trump administration, [Sonny] Perdue being from Georgia, the secretary of the USDA that they may be open to that.”
“And so, Georgia, and us and South Carolina went in and said just give us a block grant and we’ll get it out to our farmers,” he continued. “Anyway, it’s been sort of frustrating. This past week we sent our third revision to them. The idea is to let us come up with the criteria. But it hasn’t been that easy. They keep asking more questions. I keep telling our folks, if we’re just going to be another layer, then really haven’t accomplished what we started out to do, which was quickly get it out to people who are hurting.”
Pate said this funding from the government still was not going to make anybody “whole” coming out of Hurricane Michael.