We knew the total was going to be bad, we just didn’t know how bad. A newly released North Carolina estimate puts the state’s agriculture damage at $1.1 billion in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
The overwhelming majority of that money, $986.6 million, was damage to row crops in a state where farmers were racing ahead of the storm to do what they could with their harvests. Just shy of $27 million was connected to horticulture, and a little more than $23 million was damage to the livestock sector (part of that is the much-reported 5,500 hogs and more than 4 million chickens and turkeys that were killed).
The North Caroline Department of Agriculture has a website up to help guide donations from the farm community and the public at large. It can be found here.
The state’s estimates are based on the portion of crops remaining in the field in the 35 counties hit hardest by the storm. Officials also looked at the average crop production in those counties over the last five years and the current prices of commodities.
“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”
By comparison, Hurricane Matthew, a powerful storm that made landfall in the Southeast U.S. in 2016 and swept up through the Carolinas, caused $400 million in damage to North Carolina’s ag industry. But it had hit in October, once much of the harvest had been completed.