For the second consecutive year, Florida agriculture was devastated by a strong hurricane. Last year, it was Hurricane Irma that caused more than $2.5 billion in damage to the agriculture industry alone.
A few weeks ago, Hurricane Michael, a Category 4 monster that seemingly came out of nowhere, destroyed homes and farms from Defuniak Springs to Tallahassee. And while many farmers and ranchers suffered serious losses and damages due to Irma, this storm hit much closer to home for us in the Legislative office in Tallahassee.
Hurricane Michael made landfall between Panama City and Mexico Beach on Wednesday, October 10. After destroying most of Mexico Beach and Panama City, the storm moved through the Florida Panhandle with sustained winds that topped 130 miles per hour and crossed into Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane.
Although we do not have total official estimates of the damage caused to Florida agriculture by Hurricane Michael, initial forecasts topped $1.3 billion in damages to cotton and peanuts in Florida and Georgia alone. Additionally, Florida suffered damage to at least 3 million acres of timber as well as peanuts, cotton and other agricultural commodities.
Just as we did last year, Florida Farm Bureau and our Legislative Affairs office are committed to supporting our members affected by this destructive storm. Florida Farm Bureau will work with our newly elected Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture as well as the Florida Legislature to provide as many producers and growers with as much relief as possible to help recovery efforts throughout the Panhandle.
Earlier this year, Florida Farm Bureau worked to help secure nearly $25 million in state tax relief for farmers and ranchers who suffered damages from Hurricane Irma. We look forward to working with state lawmakers again in 2019 to provide as much relief to our Panhandle farmers recovering from Hurricane Michael.