Florida farmers and ranchers face losses of up to $1.56 billion in crops, livestock, and greenhouse and aquaculture products due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian, according to a new preliminary analysis from the University of Florida released Tuesday.
The evaluation carried out by the economic analysis program of the UF/IFAS places the preliminary losses between US$787 million and 1,560 million in the millions of hectares of agricultural land affected by the hurricane. Citrus, vegetables, melons and cattle suffered the “largest production losses,” according to the report.
“Although the coast, an area with comparatively less agricultural production than inland areas, suffered some of the worst impacts from the hurricane, strong winds and heavy rains hit a wide swath of the peninsula that includes more than 2 million hectares. of farmland,” said Christa Court, director of the Economic Analysis program.
High winds ripped branches from trees, torrential rains flooded fields, and damaged fences and power outages caused problems for livestock and animal product producers.
Before Hurricane Ian, many crops were already facing headwinds following a severe freeze in January and a deadly citrus disease known as “greening” or “Huanglongbing”. Some of the hardest-hit areas and fields in the southwestern part of the state are still in recovery mode and not accessible for assessment, meaning final damage assessments could change, according to the report.
Assessments are still ongoing and the final value of agricultural losses for the state will not be complete for a few weeks, according to the report.