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Preliminary estimates put Hurricane Ian's economic impact to the ag industry between $786 million and $1.56 billion

Flooding and damage from Hurricane Ian is seen at Southern Family Farms Inc. in Fort Myers, Florida, in the days after the storm destroyed towers, roofs and hydroponic crops. (Southern Fresh Farms Inc. via Fresh Take Florida)

Hurricane Ian made landfall along the coast of Southwest Florida on September 28 as a powerful Category 4 storm bringing high winds, heavy rains, and storm surge levels this part of the state hasn’t seen in more than 150 years.

While it will still take time to know the full extent of economic damages caused by Ian, preliminary estimates range from around 65-billion to as much as 120-billion dollars. Ian will rank among the top 10 costliest storms in U.S. history — possibly as high as third behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017.

Because of the storm’s massive size it brought at least tropical storm force winds to the entire Florida peninsula, impacting nearly 5-million acres of farm and grazing land, with about 700-thousand acres receiving Category 4 force winds. According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences, or IFAS, there was about 8.1 billion dollars of agriculture production in the path of the storm in terms of its value over each calendar year. Early estimates put the economic impact just to agriculture here in Florida at somewhere between 786 million and 1.56 billion dollars with citrus and vegetables most affected. You can read a detailed breakdown here.

To get a better sense of the damage Ian caused, and to understand how these numbers are arrived at, we talk with Dr. Christa Court, Assistant Professor of Regional Economics at University of Florida and Director of the UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program.

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