Hurricane Idalia deals $78M blow to Florida agriculture

USAgNet - 09/26/2023

Florida's Big Bend region faced nature's fury as Hurricane Idalia swept through, leaving behind a trail of devastation. The University of Florida (UF) economists shed light on the calamity, estimating agricultural losses between $78.8M and $370.9M.

The storm's eye traversed counties including Dixie, Hamilton, and Lafayette, unleashing Category 2- to 3-force winds. The intensity of the damage depended primarily on proximity to the storm's eye, varying from minimal to significant.

Key commodities like animals and their products, field crops, and greenhouse items bore the brunt of the destruction. The hurricane led to upheaval in agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and roofs, significantly contributing to total losses.

Christa Court from UF’s Food and Resource Economics Department emphasized the difficulty in assessing infrastructure damage but expressed hope that Idalia's data would aid in building baseline data for future evaluations.

To ascertain agricultural losses, the Economic Impact Analysis Program (EIAP) amalgamates data from various sources. Xiaohui Qiao, a research assistant professor at UF/IFAS, stressed the importance of first-hand reports in understanding the extent of damage.

Agricultural producers continue to contribute data, with the survey remaining open. A final report detailing the production losses is expected later in the season.

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