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State offers loans to citrus growers

An orange sits on a tree affected by Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales, Fla. (AP Photo/Tamara Lush)
An orange sits on a tree affected by Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales, Fla. (AP Photo/Tamara Lush) (Associated Press)

A $25 million emergency loan program will be available next week to citrus growers who suffered damage from Hurricane Irma.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the program --- offering interest-free loans up to $150,000 --- on Friday. The program will be managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Wednesday that Irma caused $2.5 billion in damages to Florida's agriculture industry, with losses to citrus crops and trees approaching $761 million.

Applications will be accepted through Nov. 30.

The interest-free “bridge” loans will have terms up to one year.

To be eligible, growers must have been established before Sept. 4 and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.