Florida ag suffered nearly $400 million in damages, officials say
By Diego Flammini
Florida officials have an idea of how much damage Hurricane Idalia caused to the state’s agriculture sector after it made landfall last month.
Economists from the University of Florida released preliminary estimates showing the storm caused between $78.8 million and $370.9 million to the ag industry.
“More than 3 million acres of Florida’s agricultural lands were affected by Hurricane Idalia, of which almost 74% was grazing land,” the university’s report says, adding the affected lands typically produce nearly $4 billion in ag products throughout a calendar or marketing year.
When broken down into commodity categories, animals and animal products have the highest predicted losses due to Hurricane Idalia.
This category, which includes beef and dairy cattle, poultry and products like milk, eggs and honey, lost between $30.1 million and $123.4 million, according to University of Florida estimates.
Field and row crops experienced between $30.7 million and $93.6 million in damage; and greenhouse and nursery products lost between $4.7 million and $68.8 million.
“A lot of people don’t understand the extent of production agriculture in Florida or where their food comes from, even if they live outside of Florida,” Christa Court, director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, told NBC Miami. “So, understanding not only the footprint of agriculture in this affected region, but the value of agriculture and the importance to the communities that have been impacted, I am hoping that message will get out.”
Court and her team are looking for more farmers to connect with.
An anonymous survey is open to farmers in Florida.
“We have to know from the boots on the ground what happened in different parts of the state,” Court told Farms.com on Sept. 8. “We can collect background data on the storm, and on the baseline conditions. But we really need to hear from the producers themselves about what happened to their specific crop or commodity.”
Floridians can expect another report to come out in about eight weeks.
This report will be more localized and include county figures, Court said.