Polk Farmers Get Federal Help for Freeze Damages

In the face of a ballooning federal deficit, Uncle Sam will come to the rescue of Florida farmers struggling to recover from last month’s brutal freezing weather. “This will certainly help,” said David Boozer, executive director of the Florida Tropical Fish Farm Association Inc. in Winter Haven, responding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently designating 60 Florida counties as federal disaster areas. The list includes Polk and every neighboring county. The declaration opens up several low-interest loan programs to freeze-stricken farmers in those counties. Tropical fish farmers centered in Hillsborough and Polk counties suffered the biggest losses from the record-breaking streak of cold weather that hit most of the state in the first two weeks of the year. Boozer estimated a 75 percent loss of Florida’s tropical fish stocks.