U.S. Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) introduced the Agriculture Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005 on Nov. 16 to assist Florida's agricultural industry in recovering from the $2.2 billion in damage caused by the disastrous 2005 hurricane season.

Most current disaster assistance programs were not drafted to deal with the after-effects of hurricanes, which means in the case of Florida's farmers, they're considered ineligible or left paying more than one costly premium during the same hurricane season.

The legislation Martinez introduced seeks to make changes to many of the crop disaster assistance programs to ensure that growers impacted by hurricanes in a federally declared disaster area will have an avenue for recovery.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is introducing the companion measure in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Martinez says, “This bill ad-dresses a significant portion of the 2005 losses by utilizing existing USDA programs but tailoring them to address the damage wrought by hurricanes.”

The bill also includes housing assistance for farm workers.

Carl Loop, president of the Florida Farm Bureau, says the Martinez legislation will go a long way toward rebuilding Florida's agriculture industry. “Florida agriculture has suffered significant crop loss and tree damage, and farmers have seen their equipment, farms and homes destroyed. This legislation will aid the recovery efforts.”