- Hurricane Idalia has caused significant damage to Florida’s agriculture, with losses estimated between $78 million and $371 million.
- The hurricane affected various sectors including livestock, field crops, and greenhouse products.
- The storm had a major impact on counties between the Gulf of Mexico and the Georgia state line.
- Agricultural infrastructure like irrigation systems and farm buildings also suffered damage.
- An assistance program has been announced to help repair or replace damaged irrigation systems.
Florida’s agriculture sector is grappling with substantial losses following the devastating impact of Hurricane Idalia. A preliminary report from the University of Florida estimates the losses to be between $78 million and $371 million, affecting various agricultural activities.
The Scope of the Damage
The Category 3 hurricane made landfall on August 30, sweeping across rural areas that include crops such as peanuts and cotton and livestock, poultry, and aquaculture operations. The storm particularly affected counties like Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Georgia state line.
Breakdown of Losses
According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the losses are distributed across various sectors. Livestock losses are estimated between $30.1 million and $123.4 million, field and row crop losses between $30.7 million and $93.6 million, and greenhouse and nursery products account for between $4.7 million and $68.8 million.
The report also highlighted the damage to agricultural infrastructure, including irrigation systems and farm buildings. While the preliminary estimates do not include these losses, they are considered significant. In response, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson announced an assistance program to repair or replace existing irrigation systems, offering a reimbursement rate of 75% up to a maximum of $150,000 per producer.
Researchers are working to narrow down the wide range of loss estimates as more on-the-ground assessments are completed. The data collected will also serve as baseline information for future assessments of storm-related agricultural losses.
The agriculture sector significantly contributes to Florida’s economy, accounting for over $270 billion in sales revenue and supporting around 2 million jobs in 2022. Only the tourism industry is larger in the state, making the recovery of the agricultural sector crucial for Florida’s overall economic health.