Hurricane Florence

U.S. to distribute $800 million in aid to southern farmers hit by 2018 hurricanes

A tractor going down a farm.
Photo: Wan Zhen/VCG via Getty Images

The federal government will distribute $800 million in aid to farmers in Florida, Alabama and Georgia that were hit by hurricanes Michael and Florence last year, the Department of Agriculture announced on Friday.

The big picture: The department will distribute the money in grants as part of a $3 billion disaster aid package approved by Congress earlier this year to help communities recovering from a variety of natural disasters. The aid will help agricultural producers in southern states "get back on their feet and prepare for next year’s planting and harvest," per Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Earth's 5 warmest years on record have occurred since 2014

Data: NASA GISS; Graphic: Harry Stevens/Axios

Last year was Earth's 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet's warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released Wednesday by NOAA, NASA and the U.K. Met Office.

Why it matters: The yearly rankings don't tell the whole story of long-term climate change, since natural variability can still push or pull an individual year up or down the rankings. However, the overall picture is growing starker with each passing year. Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels — as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture — have skyrocketed to levels not seen in more than 800,000 years.