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The Florida Senate

2004 Florida Statutes

Agricultural Economic Development Program disaster loans and grants and aid.
Section 570.249, Florida Statutes 2004

570.249  Agricultural Economic Development Program disaster loans and grants and aid.--

(1)  USE OF LOAN FUNDS.--Loan funds to agricultural producers who have experienced crop losses from a natural disaster or a socioeconomic condition or event may be used to restore or replace essential physical property, such as animals, fences, equipment, structural production facilities, and orchard trees; pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; pay essential family living expenses; and restructure farm debts. Funds may be issued as direct loans, or as loan guarantees for up to 90 percent of the total loan, in amounts not less than $30,000 nor more than $250,000. Applicants must provide at least 10 percent equity.

(2)  ELIGIBLE CROPS.--Crops eligible for the emergency loan program include:

(a)  Crops grown for human consumption.

(b)  Crops planted and grown for livestock consumption, including, but not limited to, grain, seed, and forage crops.

(c)  Crops grown for fiber, except for trees.

(d)  Specialty crops, such as seafood and aquaculture, including, but not limited to, the products of shellfish cultivation and harvesting, ornamental fish farming, and commercial fishing; floricultural or ornamental nursery crops; Christmas trees; turf for sod; industrial crops; and seed crops used to produce eligible crops.

(3)  FARMING INFORMATION.--A borrower must keep complete and acceptable farm records and present them as proof of production levels. A borrower must operate in accordance with a farm plan that he or she develops and that is approved by the commissioner. A borrower may be required to participate in a financial management training program and obtain crop insurance.

(4)  LOAN APPLICATION.--In order to qualify for a loan under this section, an applicant must submit an application to the department within 90 days after the date the natural disaster or socioeconomic condition or event occurs or the crop damage becomes apparent. An applicant must be a citizen of the United States and a bona fide resident of the state and must also demonstrate the need for economic assistance and demonstrate that he or she has the ability to repay the loan.

(5)  LOAN SECURITY REQUIREMENTS.--All loans must be secured. A first lien is required on all property or product acquired, produced, or refinanced with loan funds. The specific type of collateral required may vary depending upon the loan purpose, repayment ability, and the particular circumstances of the applicant.

(6)  LOAN REPAYMENT.--Repayment of loans for crops, livestock, and non-real-estate losses shall normally be made within 7 years or, in special circumstances, within 20 years. Loans for physical losses to real estate and buildings shall not exceed 30 years. Borrowers are expected to return to conventional credit sources when they are financially able. Loans are a temporary source of credit, and borrowers must be reviewed periodically to determine whether they can return to conventional credit.

(7)  GRANTS AND AID.--The department shall establish a grant program to provide aid to agribusinesses to assist in market development.

History.--s. 26, ch. 2000-308; s. 25, ch. 2001-279.