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Hurricane Ian agriculture losses could hit $1.9 billion

A state report said 154,846 of Florida’s 375,302 acres of citrus were hit by Category 4 winds in the storm.
 
Fifth-generation farmer Roy Petteway checks the damage to his citrus grove from Hurricane Ian on Oct. 12 in Zolfo Springs. Agriculture losses in Florida from the hurricane's high winds and drenching rains could reach $1.9 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among those hit hardest, the state reported in a preliminary estimate.
Fifth-generation farmer Roy Petteway checks the damage to his citrus grove from Hurricane Ian on Oct. 12 in Zolfo Springs. Agriculture losses in Florida from the hurricane's high winds and drenching rains could reach $1.9 billion, with citrus, cattle, vegetable and melon operations among those hit hardest, the state reported in a preliminary estimate. [ CHRIS O'MEARA | AP ]
Published Oct. 25, 2022|Updated Oct. 25, 2022

Hurricane Ian inflicted an estimated $1.18 billion to $1.9 billion in damage to Florida’s agriculture industry as the storm tore through groves, fields and ranches last month in Southwest Florida and Central Florida, according to a preliminary state report issued Monday.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the overall estimate included $417 million to $675 million in damage to the state’s already-declining citrus industry. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said the report is the first step in securing federal disaster aid.

“We will continue our close collaboration on the ground with industry partners to gain further insight into the depth and breadth of Ian’s damage,” Fried said in a statement.

The report said 154,846 of the state’s 375,302 acres of citrus were hit by Category 4-force winds in the storm, which made landfall Sept. 28 in Lee and Charlotte counties. An additional 49,449 acres experienced Category 3 winds. Meanwhile, ranches sustained $337 million to $492 million in damage.

The report said about 250 animals, mostly dairy cows, were killed by the storm, while an estimated 257,194 calves awaiting to be shipped to out-of-state feedlots remain in stressful conditions. Noncitrus fruit and vegetable crops sustained losses of $153 million to $230 million, while field crops including sugar cane sustained $86 million to $160 million in estimated losses.

Horticultural crops sustained $153 million to $297 million in losses. In 2017, Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in the Florida Keys and then moved up the state, inflicted an estimated $2.5 billion in agriculture losses, including $761 million in the citrus industry. Monday’s report came after the University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences last week estimated industry losses at $786.6 million to $1.56 billion from Ian.