Florida Ranchers Lose $238 Million to Irma

by Greg Henderson
October 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma cost Florida’s cattle ranchers $238 million. That’s based on preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Overall, Florida saw $2.5 billion in damage to agriculture from Irma last month, NASS estimates. 

More than 1.7 million cattle and calves graze approximately 6.5 million acres in Florida, with annual sales of $549 million. A statewide survey of ranches following the hurricane revealed the following losses:

An estimated 100 dead animals, each with a market value of $800, at a loss of $80,000.

An estimated 187,000 calves awaiting to be shipped to out-of-state feedlots, currently in stressful conditions, will each lose about 50 lbs in weight (loss of $75 per calf), with losses valued at $14,025,000.

“Florida agriculture took it on the chin as Hurricane Irma pummeled the state, and the $2.5 billion in agricultural damages is only an initial assessment,” said Adam H. Putnam, Florida commissioner of agriculture. 

The state saw nearly $761 million in citrus damages, $625 in greenhouse, nursery and floriculture damage, in addition to the $238 million damage to Florida’s cattle industry. 

“We’re likely to see even greater economic losses as we account for loss of future production and the cost to rebuild infrastructure,” Putnam said.

The NASS report also noted forage crops have been severely affected by floods, and as a result many ranchers who lost forage crops to flooding will have to purchase additional hay and supplements to feed their animals during the coming winter. NASS estimated an additional 45 feeding days (hay and supplement valued at $1.85 per day per head) for 601,250 cows, will result in unexpected hay and supplement purchases valued at $50,054,062.

As a result of floods and widespread damage to ranch infrastructure, NASS expects up to 7% of Florida’s cows will not carry calves to weaning or even breed this year. This is an estimated loss of 52,500 calves, each with a value of $787, or $41,317,500.

NASS also estimated 150,000 acres of pasture has experienced significant erosion and flood damage as a result of Hurricane Irma. Renovating these areas will cost around $40 per acre in replanting and related costs, for a total cost of $6,000,000.

Of the more than 18,000 beef cattle ranches in Florida, NASS estimates 6,000 suffered significant damages to structures, fences, and equipment, and also have large amounts of storm debris that must be cleaned up.

NASS said total crops losses to beef cattle producers in Florida are estimated to be $14,105,000.

Total losses, including crop losses, to beef cattle producers in the state are estimated to be $237,476,562.