The storm is projected to hit Florida over the Labor Day weekend
By Diego Flammini
Members of Florida’s ag industry are preparing as best they can before a major storm makes landfall.
Hurricane Dorian is in the Atlantic Ocean as a Category 2 hurricane with a maximum wind speed of 110 mph, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in an update on Friday morning.
The storm could arrive in Florida Monday or early Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane, some weather models predict. A system in that category can bring wind speeds of between 130 and 156 mph.
Dorian could also dump up to 15 inches of rain on some communities, the NHC said.
Farmers are taking the necessary precautions to ensure their farms and homes remain as safe as possible.
“We’re in the middle of storm preparations right now and we’ve still got a lot to do,” Rhonda Waters, a cattle producer from Bartow, Fla., told Farms.com. “We’ve got feed towers that we need to fill with water so hopefully they don’t blow away. And we have to make sure everything is secured in the barn and around the farm.
“Unfortunately, with livestock, there isn’t much you can do.”
Waters isn’t new to making hurricane safety plans.
Her family faced Hurricane Irma two years ago and three hurricanes (Charley, Frances and Jeanne) affected the farm in 2004, she said.
Dorian’s total damage to Florida’s ag industry could be in the millions of dollars.
The storm’s path includes nearly 750,000 acres of farmland and 500,000 head of beef and dairy cattle, said Christa Court, director of the economic impact analysis program at the University of Florida’s (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“The big categories in the region, in terms of acreage, are citrus, vegetables grown for the fresh market, hay, sod, non-citrus fruit, and nursery and greenhouse crops,” she said in a UF blog post.
Farms.com has reached out to more Florida farmers for comment on storm preparations.
Hurricane Dorian from space/NASA photo