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Hurricane Patricia could impact agriculture

Storm could be the strongest in history

By Diego Flammini,

A hurricane that’s expected to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast Friday evening could be the largest hurricane ever measured on the Western Hemisphere. currently reports that Hurricane Patricia is a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 200mph. That number could increase by the time it hits Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta Friday evening.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Patricia is expected to produce 8 to 12 inches of rain, life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

The hurricane is expected to be larger and more powerful than 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

Once the hurricane hits, every industry in Mexico will be affected, including agriculture as farmers and ranchers will have to try to protect their crops, animals and machinery from storm damage. Depending on the extent of the damage, American and Canadian consumers could see an increase in prices in grocery stores, too.

Mexico is a world leader in producing avocados, limes, lemons and onions. The agriculture industry as a whole is responsible for around $46 billion of the country’s GDP and employs approximately 13% of the country’s workforce.

The potential damage suffered by Mexican farms could put pressure on American and Canadian farmers to produce more food to keep up with demands.

According to Statistics Canada, Canada imports more than $1.5 billion worth of agri-food products from Mexico. The top five imports are tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, avocados and beer.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative estimates that total imports of Mexican agricultural products to the United States totaled about $17 billion in 2013. Fresh vegetables and fruit, wine and beer, and snack foods were the top imported products.

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