Preliminary data just released by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam shows Hurricane Irma gave Florida agriculture a punch in the face to the tune of $2.5 billion with citrus by far the hardest hit sector at $760,816,600.

Georgia farmers are looking at substantial losses as well, but most of the damage is to the nation’s leading pecan crop, which lost some $100,000,000 and 5000 trees. The full extent of the damage will not be known until next year. Georgia vegetable growers lost some early season crops but will recover in time to hit the post-Thanksgiving market. The story is much the same in lower South Carolina.

But it will be awhile before Florida fully recovers from Irma’s onslaught. Some citrus growers may never come back.

An American flag stands tall in the Florida Keys; (ABOVE) A Florida citrus grove with fruit floating on floodwaters

In an initial report released Oct. 5 the Florida ag department estimated losses for each segment of agriculture. The preliminary economic assessments account for: current crop losses and ancillary losses, such as debris cleanup, damaged infrastructure, and animals’ long-term welfare affected by Hurricane Irma. This preliminary assessment will change as new information becomes available, and it is not representative of any specific funding request.

“Florida agriculture took it on the chin as Hurricane Irma pummeled the state, and the $2.5 billion in agricultural damages is only an initial assessment. We’re likely to see even greater economic losses as we account for loss of future production and the cost to rebuild infrastructure. We’re going to do everything within our power to support Florida agriculture as it recovers from Hurricane Irma’s devastation,” said Putnam.

The estimated economic agricultural damages according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ preliminary report are as follows

  • Total Florida agriculture: $2,558,598,303.
  • Citrus: $760,816,600
  • Beef Cattle: $237,476,562
  • Dairy: $11,811,695
  • Aquaculture: $36,850,000
  • Fruits and Vegetables (excluding citrus): $180,193,096
  • Greenhouse, Nursery, and Floriculture: $624,819,895
  • Sugar: $382,603,397
  • Field crops: $62,747,058
  • Forestry: $261,280,000

The estimates included in the preliminary report are based on data obtained from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the UF-IFAS “Impacts of Hurricane Irma on Florida Agriculture: Update #4 Report,” UF-IFAS crops budgets, Timber Damage Estimates prepared by the Florida Forest Service, and early surveys the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services conducted with industry leaders and individual producers.

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