Agricultural damage from Hurricane Michael's rampage last week across Georgia, Alabama and Florida is forecast to top $1.3 billion, with pecan and cotton farms the hardest hit as well as the region's poultry operations, according to officials.
"Hurricane and cotton is like oil and water — it just doesn't mix at all," said William Birdsong, an agronomist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn University in Headland. He estimated the loss to Alabama cotton crops could total just over $100 million and said the price of cotton could increase given damage also is in nearby production centers, including Georgia.
In Georgia alone, the latest farm-related damage estimate from the storm is $1.2 billion, and in Florida another $100 million to $200 million, according to agricultural economist Jeffrey Dorfman at the University of Georgia in Athens, who calculated damage in the region. This marked the third straight year that Georgia pecan growers have suffered from damage due to hurricanes.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melanie Trump toured areas stricken by Hurricane Michael in Florida and Georgia on Monday. Trump tweeted Monday after arriving in Florida that he was "thinking about our GREAT Alabama farmers and our many friends in North and South Carolina today. We are with you!"
Last month, Hurricane Florence caused widespread devastation in the Carolinas, including significant losses to crops and to poultry and swine operations.
"Having seen firsthand some of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Michael, I know that farmers will need all the help they can get to recover," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. "In addition to crop insurance, USDA has a variety of programs to assist producers."