In light of Hurricane Matthew’s forecasted landfall in Central Florida Friday morning, the FBGA Fall Meeting has been postponed; those in the ag industry are encouraged to prepare.

If you’re in the blueberry industry in Florida, then you were likely heading to The Florida Blueberry Grower’s Association (FBGA) Fall Meeting this Thursday, October 6. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. Due to the activity of Hurricane Matthew, the FBGA’s Fall Meeting has been postponed to a TBA date in November.  Now is a good time to ensure that your ag operation is hurricane ready in advance of Hurricane Matthew.

Hurricane Matthew Updates

Time is of the essence, as Hurricane Matthew is likely to make landfall in Central Florida on Friday morning. The storm is strong, with 120 mph winds as of late Wednesday morning. President Obama has asked those in the storm’s path to pay attention and take evacuation orders seriously. Florida Governor Rick Scott made an official statement that Florida citizens “have less than 24 hours to prepare, evacuate and [take] shelter.”

Preparing for Hurricane Matthew

Preparing for a storm like Hurricane Matthew involves a lot of steps for ag operations. Hopefully, most heeded the advice we gave at the beginning of the season to repair and shore up barns, outbuildings, shelters, and fencing as much as possible. Make sure your structures are sound and in good repair. Spend some time if needed adding bracing to walls, securing rafters, and nailing down loose boards, shingles, and panels. If livestock is to be out in corrals and fields, make sure fencing is secure.

Also, make sure you:

  • Check that your generator is working and you have extra fuel.
  • Board up doors and windows as needed.
  • Move expensive machinery indoors, but don’t use it as an anchor.
  • Know how to shut off electricity at the switch as the storm approaches.
  • Remove debris from your property.
  • Gather tools and supplies—like wader boots, rope, ladders, lights, batteries, and tow cables—together in a secure place.

There are further considerations if you have livestock. Take these tips offered by the Jacksonville Equine Associates for protecting your livestock and preparing for Hurricane Matthew.

For Livestock

  • Turn out large livestock during the storm, but make sure fields aren’t in flood zones. Create mounds of straw for animals to stand on if flooding is a possibility.
  • Get smaller animals in the barn, but ensure they have proper ventilation.
  • Secure enough feed and water for a seven day supply. Keep food in waterproof containers. Add eight drops of bleach to every one gallon of water if it gets contaminated.
  • Separate chemicals, fertilizers, and machinery and keep away from livestock.
  • Store medications, bandages, antibiotics, and wound dressings in a secure spot.

Don’t forget to make preparations for yourself and your family. We at AgAmerica Lending know how resilient the people in the ag industry are. We wish you, your family, and your operation safe passage through the storm, and we offer the promise that we’ll be here to help growers and producers weather the storm after it’s over.

Flickr photo by Daniel Rodriguez