North Florida’s timber industry suffered a more than one-billion-dollar loss in result of Hurricane Michael. To replace the loss many have proposed hemp farming. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has been an advocate of hemp but understands getting North Florida ready to accept it is a process.
“We certainly will have an opportunity to get hemp in that area if they so choose to," said Fried. "But reforestation in that area and the ecosystem in there and that quality of life can’t be replaced. So our first goal is to get the timber of the ground and to give these individuals an opportunity to reforest, and to have an opportunity to have an opportunity to have prosperity again in that area.”
Getting the timber off the ground is a heavy load. Estimates show debris cleanup alone will cost some counties triple their annual budget. The state is addressing ways to speed up and fund recovery efforts.