Hurricane Michael Devastates Georgia's Agricultural Industry
ATLANTA, Ga. - Hurricane Michael has devastated Southwest and Central Georgia, right through the heart of Georgia's number one industry. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is coordinating efforts to assist recovery in the areas affected most by Hurricane Michael.
"Michael's impact has been the most widespread and devasting hurricane in recollection to impact Georgia's agriculture industry," said Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. "Crops, animals and infrastructure have all taken a substantial loss,"
Poultry contributes $23.3 billion to Georgia's economy and has reported the most widespread power outages and loss. To date, the GDA has received reports of 84 chicken houses, estimated to have held more than two million chickens, that were destroyed. The farms, dairies and processing plants impacted were in Appling, Colquitt, Coffee, Decatur, Evans, Houston, Mitchell, Randolph, Lee and Wilcox Counties.
Cotton, which is the state's top row crop and ranks second in the nation, also suffered massive loss due to the hurricane. Damaging winds drove much of the fiber to the ground for a total loss or tangled the cotton making it much harder to extract clean lint during the ginning process.
"For me, the cotton crop is as bad as it gets," said Georgia State Representative, Clay Pirkle. "I was picking 3 bale cotton yesterday; today it is gone. Can't tell the difference between what I've picked and what I haven't."
Assessments for peanuts and pecans are still ongoing. This would mark the second consecutive year that the pecan industry has been affected by a major hurricane. Early reports suggest that many of the processing plants and buying points for peanut and pecans have received significant damage.
Fuel terminals in southwest Georgia are expected to reopen today with no anticipated shortages. Additionally, the laboratories in Tifton, Ga. received damage, but the facility is safe.
"We are thankful for the safety of our farmers and families in South Georgia," Commissioner Black said. "Power and products can be restored but human lives cannot."
See photos here: http://agr.georgia.gov/hurricane-michael-gallery.aspx