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Hurricane Ida's Agricultural Damage

Hurricane Ida's Agricultural Damage

Although we are roughly 850 miles away from where Hurricane Ida struck land, the effects on agriculture from the hurricane can be felt across the nation. While the damage is more detrimental to Louisiana residents, we will highlight a few of the areas where we could feel the effect here in Central IL. First, it is important to look at what damage has been done to Louisiana agriculture to understand the effects that it could have on us. 

The winds and flood brought to Louisiana from Hurricane Ida have been estimated to cause at least $584 million dollars of damage to Louisiana agriculture. The significant areas of damage were to timber, buildings, equipment, and important infrastructure. Hurricane Ida hit land as a category 4 hurricane with winds over 150 MPH. Crops affected suffered physical damage and the lucky crops that missed physical damage, but were exposed to flood waters, may have to be disposed of due to FDA guidance. In addition to Louisiana crops, many crops were destroyed along the path the hurricane took after its initial strike in Louisiana. These crops will have to adhere to the same guidance from the FDA. Grain shipments were affected due to port closure. The lower Mississippi has been reopened to barge traffic, but grain elevators and barge terminals have been damaged, waterways still have obstructions, and lingering power-outages are affecting port movement. The timber damage will affect parts of the lumber market because many of the fallen trees will not be able to be used due to disease and other problems. So much fallen timber could also flood the lumber market, causing prices and sales to fluctuate.  Louisiana farmers have faced an estimated $162.9 million dollars in damage to farm buildings and equipment, which doesn’t include $37.9 million dollars in damage to fencing alone. 

The damage Ida caused that is most likely to affect us here is Central IL is the damage that was caused to Louisiana agriculture infrastructure and docks. Many of those places will take a long time to recover and will affect how certain supply chains are run. Damage that we may see an effect from is the damage that was done to sugar mills. Thankfully, wind damaged sugarcane has a potential to be harvested, but it takes more energy and will produce less crop. However, some yield is better than no yield. There is no specific estimate of the cost of the sugarcane damage yet. In addition, many corn and soybean shipments are exported through the Mississippi Gulf port. This effect on our farmers here at home may not be direct depending on what our farmers choose to do with their crops; however, it does affect profit further down the supply chain. Mid-October through Mid-November, it is common to see 40 to 50 million bushels of soybeans exported through the gulf ports. However, this number is up in the air this year with the lingering factors of elevator and barge terminal damage, waterways obstructions, and power-outages (the same factors as mentioned above relating to grain shipments). These issues could impact farmer profit if they are not able to be resolved rapidly enough. On the bright side, a lot of the infrastructure was rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, so it was created with the damage Katrina brought in mind. Many farm bureaus have created a Hurricane Ida Relief Fund to support Louisiana farmers who have lost so much. To name two, Texas and Louisiana Farm Bureaus are accepting donations towards their relief funds that help the farmers rebuild and recover from the devastating storm. The Texas Farm Bureau is directing any donations directly to the Louisiana Farm Bureau. 

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