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Oct. 19 - Early Estimates for Agricultural Losses Following Hurricane Michael Approaching $3 Billion

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

October 19, 2018 - Early estimates of agricultural losses caused by Hurricane Michael are starting to come in from the University of Georgia and Georgia Forestry Commission, and the numbers are staggering.

“Georgia has long led in the production of several renowned commodities and now we have the dubious distinction of also leading in the devastation and incredible loss of these prominent crops,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “These are generational losses that are unprecedented, and it will take unprecedented ideas and actions to help our farm families and rural communities recover.”

Timber is a mainstay in South Georgia with many small or private landowners owning timberland. Approximately 1 million acres were destroyed, resulting in $1 billion in losses. 

Cotton was the second highest contributor to Georgia’s farm gate value last year, contributing just over 7 percent, with expectations for record yields this year.  Estimated losses from Hurricane Michael range from $300 million to $800 million. The final loss estimate will be dependent on the ability to harvest what remains in the field. 

For the third straight year, Georgia pecan farmers took a significant hit from a hurricane. Trees were either blown over or broken, resulting in an estimated $560 million dollar loss. The damages will have a generational impact since it takes about seven years for a tree to begin producing marketable pecans. 

Georgia is home to a wide variety of produce including sweet corn, cucumbers, squash, peppers, tomatoes and peas, which suffered an estimated $480 million loss. Farmers were counting on high yields and strong prices for their fall harvest after experiencing a difficult spring harvest.  

Poultry is Georgia’s leading agricultural industry, contributing nearly $23.3 billion to Georgia’s economy.  Michael will make a lasting impact on this poultry industry with the loss of 97 houses and well over 2 million chickens. The losses are estimated at $25 million. 

While peanuts fared better than many other crops, infrastructure damage remains uncertain. Estimations for peanut losses range from $10 to $20 million, with the final loss estimate to be determined by the ability to get the remaining peanuts out of the field and into storage facilities, as well as graded and sorted. 

Other industries affected by the storm include cattle and agritourism. Fall is calving season for many Georgia cattlemen who are facing extensive damages to fence and lack of access to water, requiring them to haul water to their animals. Fall is also typically the most important season for many agritourism sites with corn mazes and pumpkin patches that bring many families and school field trips on the farm. Multiple mazes have been destroyed in addition to other farm damage. The loss estimate will be difficult to determine, even after the season is over.

“The meter started at $1 billion and jumped quickly to nearly $3 billion,” Commissioner Black said.  “Unfortunately, we are not quite sure where it is going to stop.”

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  2. Oct. 10 - Georgia Department of Agriculture Responds to Threat of Hurricane Michael
  3. Oct. 9 - City of Tybee Island Efforts to Help the Bees
  4. Aug. 29 - USDA Announces Assistance to Pecan Growers Affected by 2017 Weather Events
  5. Aug. 3 - Rep. Gilliard and Commissioner Black to Kick Off Savannah Farmers Market Festival Series
  6. May 18 - Georgia Blueberry Growers Suffer Second Consecutive Year of Loss
  7. Feb. 1 - USDA, FDA Announce Formal Agreement to Bolster Coordination and Collaboration
  8. Nov. 30 - The American Forest Foundation, Enviva Holdings, LP and The Nature Conservancy Announce Partnership for Forest Certification and Habitat Restoration
  9. Nov. 9 - Georgia Water Coalition Releases Water and Agriculture in Georgia Report
  10. Nov. 1 - EPA Recognizes Excellence and Innovation in Clean Water Infrastructure
  11. Oct. 30 - Texas agricultural losses from Hurricane Harvey estimated at more than $200 million
  12. Oct. 23 - EPA Helps Communities Grow Local Food Economy, Spur Revitalization
  13. Oct. 5 - USDA Issues Farm Safety Net and Conservation Payments
  14. Oct. 3 - Secretary Perdue Statement on Hurricane Maria Assistance to Agricultural Producers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  15. Sept. 25 - Commissioner Black and Secretary Perdue Assess Damage from Hurricane Irma
  16. Aug. 9 - Savannah didn’t score a grant, but Atlanta did, a new program to help SNAP participants purchase healthy foods
  17. July 25 – Secretary Perdue and FFA to Support ‘Next Generation of Agriculture’
  18. June 15 - Former Gov. Perdue to host Canadian and Mexican officials in Savannah, Lyons for ports and farms
  19. Sept. 30 – Majority of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation receive Farm Bureau Award
  20. Nov. 4 - Late Season Conditions May Affect Some of Georgia’s Pecan Crop

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