The Cattle Range Home Page
October 11, 2017
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Irma's Damages to Florida Cattle Industry

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Irma's Damages to Florida Cattle Industry

Hurricane Irma made landfall on the Florida Keys as a category 4 hurricane, and again in Southwest Florida as a category 3 hurricane, leaving a path of destruction that included the beef cattle industry.

Beef cattle is one of Florida’s most important land uses, with more than 1.7 million animals grazing in approximately 6.5 million acres of pasture and woodlands, and annual sales of $549.1 million.

A statewide survey of cattle ranches in the aftermath of hurricane Irma revealed the following losses and damages:

  • An estimated 100 dead animals, each with a market value of $800, at a loss of $80,000.
  • An estimated 187,000 calves waiting to be shipped to out-of-state feedlots, currently in stressful conditions, will each lose about 50 pounds in weight (loss of $75 per calf), with losses valued at $14,025,000.
  • Forage crops have been severely affected by floods, and as a result many ranchers who lost forage crops to flooding will have to purchase additional hay and supplements to feed their animals during the coming winter. An estimated 45 additional feeding days (hay and supplement, valued at $1.85 per day per head) for 601,250 cows, will result in unexpected hay and supplement purchases valued at $50,054,062.
  • As a result of floods and widespread damage to ranch infrastructure, the agency also expects that up to 7 percent of the cows in Florida will not carry calves to weaning or even breed this year. This is an estimated loss of 52,500 calves, each with a value of $787, or $41,317,500.
  • An estimated 150,000 acres of pasture has experienced significant erosion and flood damage as a result of Hurricane Irma. Renovating these areas will cost around $40 per acre in replanting and related costs, for a total cost of $6,000,000.
  • Of the more than 18,000 beef cattle ranches in Florida, an estimated 6,000 suffered significant damages to structures, fences, and equipment, and also have large amounts of storm debris that must be cleaned up. These damages will result in the following estimated costs: $4,000 per ranch in debris cleanup and rebuilding fences ($24,000,000. total), $15,000 per ranch in damage to barns, sheds, housing, roads, and other infrastructure ($90,000,000 total); and $2,000 per ranch in equipment damage ($12,000,000 total).
  • Total crops losses to beef cattle producers in Florida are estimated to be $14,105,000.
Adding it all up, total losses, including crop losses, to beef cattle producers in the state are estimated to be $237,476,562.
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