With many uncontrollable factors, like weather disturbances, the stakes are high for farmers.
Farmers are at the mercy of the weather—good or bad—and when natural disasters occur like hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, their operations become significantly impacted. In the last three years, at least 13 hurricanes have taken center stage, destroying communities and farmland across the country including: Hermine, Matthew, Harvey, Irma, Nate, Florence, Matthew, Michael, Chris, Leslie, Gert, Jose, Maria.
Hurricanes Affect Southeast Farmers
Weather experts have long predicted that hurricanes will become larger, more plentiful, and more powerful—and in this past year alone, that prediction was realized as last September’s Hurricane Florence and October’s Hurricane Michael delivered devastating hits that resulted in astronomical financial losses for farmers across the Southeast.
Following hurricane Florence, North Carolina sustained more than $1.1 billion in damages to crops and livestock, according to the USDA, where row crop damage and losses alone were estimated at $987 million. Damage estimates in South Carolina from Florence topped $125 million with the worst losses among cotton growers.
The category 4, hurricane Michael, affected Georgia agriculture across all segments, resulting in an estimated $3 billion in losses to poultry, timber, peanuts, pecans, and related ag businesses. Moreover, it destroyed what Alabama growers were calling “a once in a lifetime” cotton crop when the hurricane landed with 155 mph in the Florida panhandle.
According to the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension: This area of Florida and Southwest Georgia has been spared from major hurricanes since the 1850s, so huge, 50-150 year-old trees were snapped off, twisted, or blown over onto homes, barns, fences, grain bins and other structures.
It Takes Resilience to be a Farmer
Farmers and ranchers are known for their dedication and commitment to the land they love and operate, but they are defined by their resilient character when faced with challenges outside of their control. Hurricanes bring lasting effects on farmers and their production for years to come following the aftermath of the hurricane.
AgAmerica had the opportunity to follow a South Georgia multi-generational farm owner and his family in Camilla, Georgia, experiencing first-hand the before, during, and aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Worsham farms, growers and producers of over 1,500 acres of sweet corn, 1,200 acres of peanuts, and 2,500 acres of pecans—with trees over 100 years old—allowed us to document their journey and share the story of what it takes to be a resilient farmer in an industry where you risk it all to work the land you love.
Watch and listen as the family of Worsham Farms shares their journey through Hurricane Michael:
The Georgia Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture and Florida Farm Bureau’s Hurricane Michael Relief Fund provide financial relief to Southeast farmers who have been devastated by Hurricane Michael. If you are interested in helping these farmers please visit their sites to donate and learn more about their work.
At AgAmerica, we recognize that as a farmer you are at the mercy of the weather and when natural disasters hit, rebuilding the land you love is of utmost importance. Our team is here to help you weather through the challenging seasons and find long-term financial stability. If you are in need of assistance, please speak with one of our land loan experts today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 844.516.8176.