Sunday, September 12, 2004

Ag Crops Loses Great

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson says
early estimates indicate agriculture losses resulting from Hurricanes
Charley and Frances will exceed $2 billion -- 30 percent of the state's
agriculture industry -- and these losses will increase if Hurricane Ivan
impacts the state. The impact has been felt in every sector of agriculture
from nurseries to citrus to timber.

Early estimates being reported to the Department indicate the nursery
industry, which is the top agriculture industry in Florida, will suffer a
loss of between $530 million and $600 million from both storms. This
includes the loss of product as well as structural damage. Florida's
citrus industry faces losses of more than $400 million from Charley and
Frances, not including structural damages, and the state's timber industry
anticipates more than $150 million dollars in losses. That number is
likely to rise as damage not yet apparent, such as root rot and bug
infestations begin to take their toll. In addition, dairy farmers have
been forced to dump more than 300,000 gallons of milk because there were no
tankers available to ship the milk out. The dairy and beef cattle will
continue to succumb to storm related problems such as stress. Other
impacted industries include vegetable crops, tropical fruit, aquaculture,
and tropical fish.

On Wednesday, Bronson, joined by United States Department Agriculture
Deputy Secretary James Moseley, toured agricultural damage in several areas
of the state and met with some industry representatives to find out what
the most pressing needs are. Bronson continues to gather damage estimates
to provide to Governor Jeb Bush and the federal government in an effort to
provide some financial relief.

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