Hurricane Michael is taking direct aim at Georgia and Florida’s multi-billion-dollar agricultural industry as both states prepare for a storm some believe could wallop large sections of the South.
Georgia’s agricultural industry is in Michael’s crosshairs, and the major storm is putting at least a portion of Florida’s 40,000 farms at risk. Meanwhile, officials are asking citizens to prepare for the worst as the Category 4 storm takes aim at sections of Alabama and Florida’s panhandle.
The storm’s effects could cause a significant dent in Georgia’s staple industry. Agriculture contributes approximately $73.3 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development. One-in-seven Georgians are employed in the industry as well.
But Florida is likely to take the full force. Michael is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon – the state’s farmers are preparing.
“This is a busy time for farmers as well as other Floridians who live within the projected path of the storm,” GB Crawford, the director of public relations for Florida’s Farm Bureau, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. They prepare for whatever impact hurricanes play on farmland, he said
Crawford did strike an optimistic tone, noting that the “primary regions of fruit and vegetable production are located” in areas of the state that are unlikely to get hit by Michael. He added: Ultimately “we have no means of determining in advance the damage Florida agriculture will suffer from the storm.”
The Peach State is also haggling with the weather. “For Georgia, we are best with pine trees, pecans, and peanuts,” Andy Lucas, director of communications, told TheDCNF. “Any time there is wind or rain or hurricanes, officials in the state get concerned. We are monitoring things. Cotton could also be affected.”
“Peanuts are 40 percent complete,” he said before noting that 60 percent of the crop is yet to be pulled as Michael bears down. “They could rot, and the grades could go down as well. We haven’t even begun to harvest pecans yet.” October and November are the harvest season for Georgia’s pecans and peanuts.
“We are almost to the end of the season – then Mother Nature comes in and disrupts everything. They are pretty depressed,” Lucas said of farmers forced to deal with what could be ravaged crops.
The entire Florida Panhandle from Pensacola to Tallahassee, including Interstate 10, will see gusts between 50 and 90 mph and significant tree damage ahead of Michael, which Florida Gov. Rick Scott is calling the big one.
“Hurricane Michael is forecast to be the most destructive storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in decades,” Scott told reporters Monday. “Remember, this storm could grow stronger and be a Category 3 hitting our state. This storm will be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.” (RELATED: 400,000 People Without Power As Florence Slams The Carolinas)
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