Last week, Hurricane Michael ripped through the southeastern states of the U.S., leaving plenty of Floridians with severe damage to their homes, and many people missing in the chaos. But Florida was not the only state adversely affected by the massive storm.
According to WSB-TV Atlanta, Georgia agriculture also suffered major damage in the hurricane, with a new report from Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Gary Black estimating the value of lost crops to be over $1 billion.
Crops in the southwestern areas of the state were completely flattened, with entire pecan trees being ripped clean off the ground in some cases. In just a single day, many south Georgia farmers may have lost their entire livelihoods at the hands of Michael.
“Unfortunately, our worst thoughts were realized. We saw months and sometimes years of work just laid over on the ground in a matter of seconds. These are generational losses that are unprecedented and it will take unprecedented ideas and actions to help our farm families and rural communities recover,” Black said of the tragedy.
Georgia has not been hit by a major hurricane since the 1800s, and while much of the strength of the storm was diminished by the time it moved up from the Florida panhandle, it maintained enough devastation to unleash chaos on Georgia’s farming communities.
On October 16, Vice President Mike Pence visited Georgia to observe the massive damage.
“It’s not going to go unnoticed in this administration and we’re going to make sure the people of this region will have the support to rebuild.”
A breakdown of the estimated damage provided by Georgia Department of Agriculture shows which industries will suffer the most in the wake of the storm.
With a potential of record yields in the cotton industry this year, the estimated loss of between $300 and $800 million is all the more devastating for farmers. The eventual loss value will only be able to be accurately calculated once farmers have attempted to harvest whatever still remains in their fields.
As a result of the number of uprooted pecan trees in the region, Georgia Department of Agriculture puts the loss of revenue in that sector at $560 million. One county lost all of its pecan crop, and the fact that a pecan tree takes seven years to yield its first crop will mean this loss will be felt for years.
The loss in revenue for produce farmers has been valued at $480 million. This includes the loss of all kinds of different vegetables, and will cause particular problems for farmers who had a poor spring crop and were counting on a good fall crop.
Poultry losses are estimated around $25 million, with over 2 million chickens lost in the hurricane.
Although the loss to the peanut industry is only estimated between $10 and $20 million, the loss of infrastructure is still uncertain. The ability to harvest the peanuts and store them will have a major impact on the actual loss value, and with the damage to storage facilities this could prove tricky.
The timber industry is estimated to have lost a whopping $1 billion in revenue as a result of Michael, with approximately 1 million acres completely flattened.