UF/IFAS Economists Narrow Estimate of Ag Losses from Hurricane Ian to $1.03 Billion

Jim Rogers Florida

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) economists have refined the estimate of agricultural losses due to Hurricane Ian to $1.03 billion.

Hurricane Ian
Photo courtesy of UF/IFAS.

This number is an estimate of the total value of seasonal crops, livestock, nursery and aquaculture products that will not be harvested or marketed as a result the category 4 storm. Hurricane Ian made landfall on an island 20 miles west of Fort Myers on Sept. 28, 2022, and brought damaging winds and flooding to millions of acres of agricultural lands as it swept across the Florida peninsula.

The UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program (EIAP) published its detailed report, “Estimated Agricultural Losses Resulting from Hurricane Ian,” on Thursday.

A portion of the $1.03 billion loss estimate might be offset by insurance or other risk management tools available to producers, said Christa Court, director of the EIAP and an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS food and resources economics department.

“For example, if a grower was expecting to harvest $10 million in crops this year and the storm destroyed $6 million worth, we report a $6 million loss. That farmer might recoup some of that through insurance, but we don’t have a good way of accounting for that in our estimates,” Court explained.

The latest report breaks down the $1.03 billion in final estimated losses by commodity group:

  • Citrus: $247.1 million
  • Vegetables and melons: $204.6 million
  • Greenhouse and nursery: $195.4 million
  • Non-citrus fruit: $137.7 million
  • Field and row crops: $130.2 million
  • Livestock and animal products: $119.8 million

The five counties with the greatest agricultural losses include:

  • Manatee: $126.4 million
  • Hillsborough: $104.4 million
  • Palm Beach: $88.8 million
  • Hardee: $72.5 million
  • Hendry: $72.0 million

Court explained that while this report presents a clearer picture of Hurricane Ian’s impacts to Florida agriculture, it does not include costs associated with asset damages or production losses that might occur in future seasons.

“For example, we are not able to measure things such as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged structures or equipment, replanting perennial crops or replacing livestock,” Court said.

Court pointed out that Hurricane Ian’s impacts to Florida agriculture have been further compounded by Hurricane Nicole and hard freezes that occurred in January 2022 and December 2022.

“The same areas affected by Ian were hit, in some cases, by multiple weather events that each would have affected the agricultural yield on their own in an ordinary year,” Court said. “Our survey only covered damages and losses from Hurricane Ian, so this report is not a view of the total impact to agricultural production of all 2022 events that have impacted the sector.”