Interest-Free Emergency Bridge Loans Available for Florida Farmers Impacted by Hurricane Michael
The Florida Catastrophic Emergency Bridge Loan Program has been activated by the Governor of Florida to assist agricultural producers of field crops that were devastated by Hurricane Michael. The program, which is a subset of the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, allows agricultural producers of field crops to secure short-term, interest-free funding for the upcoming grow cycle.
The program – which is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with Florida First Capital (which serves as fiscal administrator on a pro bono basis) and the Florida SBDC Network – provides working capital loans intended to help bridge the gap between the time damage occurred and when a farmer secures other longer term financial resources, such as payment of crop insurance claims, federal disaster recovery appropriations or a loan.
The program, which will be available through June 30, 2019, has been allocated $25 million to help agricultural producers prepare for the upcoming growing seasons as part of ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Michael.
Designated Disaster Areas: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
Qualified Applicant: Applications will be accepted by qualified field crop producers that maintain a farm in the state of Florida. Qualified applicants must be a Florida agricultural producer with land in production that has suffered physical damage and/or economic injury as a result of Hurricane Michael and be established prior to Oct. 7, 2018.
Amount: Up to $200,000 per eligible applicant.
Term: Up to 2 years.
Interest Rate and Penalties: Loans will be interest-free for the loan term (2 years). The Interest rate will be 12% per annum on the unpaid balance thereafter, until the loan balance is repaid in full. Loan default is subject to a normal commercial collection process.
Application Period: Applications will be accepted by qualified Florida agricultural producers under this program through June 30. 2019, contingent on the availability of funds.
As part of the loan process, farmers must submit their application and required documents to their local Florida SBDC. Florida SBDC certified consultants and disaster specialists are available to provide confidential, no-cost consulting to help affected agricultural producers complete their application.
To complete an application by the June 30, 2019 deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. Complete eligibility and loan development details as well as additional resources may also be found on the website.
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was first activated following Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It has been activated 24 additional times following disasters and has helped more than 4,160 small businesses statewide to receive more than $123.1 million in assistance.
For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, please contact the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network Headquarters. Email: Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. Phone toll-free: (866) 737-7232.
The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.