A survey of cattle ranchers following Hurricane Ian found 5,822 suffered significant damage to structures, fences and equipment. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the survey indicated 250 dead animals and 257,194 calves in stressful conditions awaiting shipment to out-of-state feedlots in the aftermath of the giant storm.
Ian made landfall on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 Storm. Total infrastructure losses to the beef industry were pegged at $215.4 million to $262 million.
FDACS estimates more than 18,000 ranches in the state with beef cattle one of the most important land uses. Data suggests more than 1.63 million animals graze on approximately 6.1 million acres, with annual sales of $475 million in 2019.
The state’s forage crops were also severely affected by floods and many ranchers who lost forage crops to flooding will need to purchase hay and other feeds to care for their animals. An estimated 1,582,517 acres of pasture experienced significant erosion and flood damage from the storm.
Total losses to Florida’s agriculture production and infrastructure from the hurricane were estimated at $1.18 billion to $1.89 billion.
The agency estimates a cost of $12,000 to $15,000 per ranch for cleanup, another $5,000 in damage to equipment and $20,000 to $25,000 per ranch in damage to barns, sheds, housing, roads and other infrastructure.