We at Growing send our thoughts and prayers to those in Southern Texas, Louisiana and Florida who were suffered any loss due to the deadly hurricanes of Harvey and Irma in September. Nature will always wreak havoc on man’s best laid plans, especially in an industry that relies so heavily on it.
In Texas, the state’s Farm Bureau reported that producers are expected to incur substantial losses where some farmland was drenched with more than 25 inches of rain. Cotton, grain, sorghum, corn and wheat account for a large percentage of crop receipts in Texas. Louisiana cotton crops are also in jeopardy.
“It’s an historic storm and a disaster for many farmers and ranchers. The torrential rainfall wreaked havoc on Texas agriculture at the worst possible time — harvest season,” said Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening. “Hurricane Harvey struck an area of the state known for cattle, cotton and rice, and other row crops.”
Growers from around the country are banding together to help Texas growers any way they can. The bureau established a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to assist in its agricultural loss.
According to CNBC, Harvey will most likely effect the farmers in Texas and Louisiana. Bloomberg estimated that the Corpus Christi area has about 5,000 acres of damaged crops. It could take a while before gins and grain elevators start running.
Florida is also facing a bleak future. According to Moody’s Analytics, the state’s citrus production is projected to drop 12 percent. More troubling, a good portion of temporary housing used for seasonal workers were heavily damaged from Hurricane Irma.
“There are a number of old timers who have seen a lot of freezes and fires and floods, and the consensus of the growers is that this is the state’s most significant crop loss ever,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to the Associated Press.
Putnam noted the uphill climb for producers — who have experienced up to 70 percent losses — will be steep with the Thanksgiving demand later this year. In both states, the effects will reach through the supply chain: growers, truckers, processors and buyers. The cost of recovery is expected to reach the billions.
The Florida Farm Bureau reported that vegetable growers do not have access to their fields while blueberry producers across the state are struggling with “acreage that has turned into lakes or muddy bogs.”
“A farm disaster of this magnitude requires exceptional action,” Florida Farm Bureau President John L. Hoblick said. “Farm families need our help. I urge the Congress and the Administration to endorse immediate financial support for Florida agriculture. We appreciate all aid that you can provide during this crisis.”
For growers, the USDA Farm Service Agency has programs that help those growers in need recover. The programs include: Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program.
Have coverage? There is compensation available for producers who have the coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. Growers should contact their crop insurance agent to learn more about their coverage.
In times like these, the business damages are not important as the emotional and all too real grief of those who have lost so much more. The recovery will be a long process for Florida and Texas, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead.
May the sorrow in your loss fuel the strength in your renewal.
How can you help?
Beware of donation scams. Only donate to trusted organizations. Here are a few disaster relief programs available:
- Texas Farm Bureau
- Contact Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers if lost livestock has been found: 817-332-7064
- Texas Department of Agriculture
- American Red Cross
- Texas Agricultural Education Disaster Relief Fund
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension disaster education network