Agriculture industry takes big hit in hurricane

State says agriculture industry suffered nearly $1.49B in damages from Michael

By The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida’s agriculture industry suffered nearly $1.49 billion in damages from Hurricane Michael, with timber growers the hardest hit, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said Friday.

The department estimated the economic losses for the timber industry at $1.3 billion, a figure the Florida Forest Service projected shortly after the storm.

The rest of the numbers mostly align with figures presented by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in late October. Those numbers projected that nearly 1 million acres of crops such as cotton, nuts and vegetables, along with beef, dairy and other animal products, were damaged across 25 counties from the powerful Oct. 10 storm that made landfall in Mexico Beach.

In the department’s report, cotton damages were estimated at $49.9 million, cattle at $43 million, peanuts at $23 million and nurseries at $16 million.

The university study noted that the storm tore through Northwest Florida as the cotton harvest was just getting underway and about 90 percent of the crop was still in the field.

The university’s researchers also wrote that a “significant” amount of livestock went missing after the hurricane, including beef cattle, deer, horses and hogs. Impacts to vegetable growers from Michael were estimated at $8.6 million.

Dairies took a $6.4 million hit, while poultry and egg production suffered $10 million in damages.

Fruit industry damages stood at $4.4 million and pecan losses were $4 million.

In 2017, the state’s agriculture industry suffered an estimated $2.5 billion in losses from Hurricane Irma, with $761 million in damages inflicted on the citrus industry.

News Service of Florida