| House Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery
|On Monday, the House Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery (Chair Rep. Michael Grant, R-Port Charlotte) heard testimony from five sectors of agriculture affected by Hurricane Idalia, which hit the Florida Big Bend region as a Category 3 storm causing widespread damage. The sectors represented included the Florida Agriculture Coalition, aquaculture, beef cattle, dairy farmers, and the timber industry. Roughly 3.3 million acres of agriculture were impacted by the storm with an estimated loss of $370 million.
Of note, there was an estimated $34 million loss to aquaculture. Florida is second in the nation in clam production and clam leases near Cedar Key suffered lost clam beds from debris, silt, and direct storm damage. The aquaculture industry requested a $3 million fund ($5,000 per operator) to help tide them over and consideration of creating an “aquaculture disaster relief fund.” This same region’s oyster reefs are critical breeding and wintering habitat for a substantial portion of the country’s American Oystercatchers, a state-threatened species in Florida.
It has been difficult to fully estimate the damage to the cattle and dairy industries. Idalia impacted 22 dairies, almost half the total in the state. Impacts included significant structural damage to barns, sheds, fences, and equipment.