The University of Florida started collecting farmer hurricane data in 2017
By Diego Flammini
Top photo: Hurricane Idalia from space (NASA photo).
Researchers from the University of Florida (UF) are looking for farmers affected by Hurricane Idalia to participate in a survey.
“We have to know from the boots on the ground what happened in different parts of the state,” Christa Court, director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program at UF, told Farms.com. “We can collect background data on the storm, and on the baseline conditions. But we really need to hear from the producers themselves about what happened to their specific crop or commodity.”
The anonymous survey is open to farmers in Florida.
Producers who participate need to provide answers about where their farm is located, the disaster type, and provide estimated damage figures.
Farmers aren’t required to enter their name or address and may stop the survey at any time.
UF started this kind of ag survey in 2017 after Hurricane Irma.
That year, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimated the damage to the ag sector at $2.5 billion.
In the years since, researchers have learned multiple lessons, Court said.
“Over time you come to find that each storm is different,” she said. “Growers could be impacted by the wind, by the precipitation or by the flooding. Those things do not all happen at the same location, so we learn about how the different characteristics of the storm impacts different commodities.”
Once Court and her team collect the data related to Hurricane Idalia, the public can expect two reports to be published.
One will be a preliminary statewide report covering losses by commodity group.
The second report is more localized, Court said.
“We’ll release a county level report about six or eight weeks after the preliminary report,” Court said. “And the preliminary report could be out within the next two weeks.”
The overall goal, Court says, is to collect enough data over time that at some point the surveys aren’t necessary.
“We still need more data to determine the relationships between storms and crop losses,” she said. “Obviously we don’t want these storms to happen, but when they do, and we’re able to find out from farmers the damage the storms cause, hopefully we can get to a point where we don’t have to bug producers anymore because we’re confident in those relationships.”