FORESTRY 411
WILDFIRES
Crews from the Florida Forest Service (FFS) continue to work around the clock to contain a fire in Five Mile Swamp in Santa Rosa County. The fire began early Monday and was estimated to cover 2000 acres as of this morning (Friday).

FFS is also battling another blaze further west in Walton County. The Mussett Bayou fire is 575 acres in size and is 70% contained.

FFS has also issued “very high” fire-danger warnings for eight counties in north and northwest Florida and seven more counties elsewhere. It flagged 18 more around the state with “high” warnings.

The “very high” warnings are for:
Okaloosa, Washington, Bay, Liberty, Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla and Jefferson, in north and northwest Florida;
Duval and Nassau counties in northeast Florida;
Pinellas and Polk counties in central Florida;
Lee, Dade and Monroe counties in south Florida.

FFS Director Erin Albury said there are smaller fires burning around the state that pose a concern with weather like this because “none of them are fully contained.”

DOT TRUCK WEIGHT ORDER EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 31
The Florida Department of Transportation has extended its suspension of truck weights through May 31. The suspension applies to divisible loads on any vehicles transporting emergency equipment, services, supplies, and necessary agricultural commodities (including timber) for the purpose of COVID-19 public health emergency response, up to 95,000 pounds.

Each vehicle carrying this additional weight MUST carry a copy of the  updated FDOT Emergency Road Use Permit letter  and a Bridge Restriction Map in the cab of the truck at all times or be able to access them electronically upon request. 

The permit letter, emergency order, executive order and applicable map based on your configuration may be  obtained here via the FDOT website or by contacting the FDOT Permit Office at 850.410.5777.
COMMISSIONER FRIED ENCOURAGES FARMERS TO APPLY FOR ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS
Following an announcement by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that agricultural businesses are now eligible for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is encouraging Florida’s farmers and ranchers to apply immediately. The EIDL portal has reopened as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“As Florida’s agricultural producers work hard to support our state’s food supply chain, they’re facing unprecedented crop losses of over half a billion dollars,” said Commissioner Fried “By allowing agriculture businesses to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, the SBA has made available a much-needed resource that will help our growers as they wait for support from the USDA. I’m encouraging all farmers affected by COVID-19 to apply immediately, as applications will be accepted on a limited basis.”
 
Only agricultural businesses are eligible to apply through the reopened EIDL portal.  Agricultural businesses include those engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agriculture-related industries. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees to begin preparing the financial information necessary for the application process.
 
Eligible agricultural businesses can apply for the EIDL loan here.  For agriculture producers who submitted an EIDL application prior to this change, the SBA will continue to process these applications; there is no need to apply again. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis.

This expanded access for agriculture to the EIDL program is in addition to existing access for farmers and ranchers to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, which can be applied for here.

RE-OPEN FLORIDA TASK FORCE REPORT
The task force assembled by Governor Ron DeSantis to create a plan for the re-opening of Florida has released its final report.

ANGLE CHOSEN AS NEW VP OF AG & NATURAL RESOURCES FOR UF
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs has announced that J. Scott Angle, PhD, will be joining the UF/IFAS family as vice president of agriculture and natural resources. His first day will be July 13, 2020. 

Dr. Angle will oversee UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with more than 6,000 students, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, and the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station’s network of research centers. He succeeds Jack Payne, who is retiring after 10 years in that position.

2020 VISION MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN
The Association’s “2020 Vision” membership campaign kicked off on May 1 and will run through November 1.

“We’re really excited about this campaign,” said Director of Member Services Whitney Hough. “2020 is proving to be completely different than we envisioned, but it has brought into crystal clear focus how important unity is. No one needs to be going through all of this on their own.”

The format of the campaign is simple: Participants receive one point for every dollar in dues generated from the new members they recruit. The person who has accumulated the most points on November 1 wins. There is a 500-point minimum.

Many thanks to our friends at FLAG Credit Union for providing the prize -- a $500 gift card!

SILVICULTURAL CONTRACTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
I t’s that time of the year to recognize our silvicultural contractors who work hard to provide valuable services to the landowners of Florida! 

Take some time to reflect on those who have helped get good work done and help us recognize these valuable members of the forest industry. Please complete the short nomination form and send to Laura Bosworth at  Laura@FLForestry.org

We will be accepting nominations until May 31 .
TAX TIPS FOR FOREST LANDOWNERS FOR THE 2019 TAX YEAR
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal income tax filing deadline has been extended to July 15 .

Each year the USDA provides forest owners, foresters, loggers, and timber businesses with a guide to the applicable federal income tax laws, including the latest tax law changes, for filing 2019 tax returns.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS
June 3-4, 2020
Master Logger 2-Day Training
Gateway College
Lake City, FL

August 25-27, 2020
Annual Meeting
Omni Amelia Island Resort
Amelia Island, FL


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