FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 26, 2018
Office of Communications
Updated Damage Assessments from Hurricane Michael Released
Atlanta, Ga.- Georgia farmers are sharing their hardships in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which struck the heart of rural Georgia in early October. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black and the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) have traveled to affected farms throughout the state and listened to the stories of farmers and farm families impacted by the storm. Each narrative returns to a similar message: Georgia agriculture, the state's No. 1 industry, faces a generational impact.
“A lot of older farmers were getting ready to (retire). And they were hoping, ‘Well, if I have one more good crop I’m going to hand it down to the next generation and not have to pass the debt down.’ Now a lot of that is gone. A lot of the big plans for some of the farmers are gone,” explained Blake Bledsoe, a farmer in Hawkinsville, Ga.
Hurricane Michael’s track took a staggering toll on agriculture, which is a $73.3 billion industry in Georgia, making it the No. 1 contributor to the state's economy. Damage estimates as of Oct. 25 exceed $2 billion in direct commodity loss. Cotton loss is $550 million; vegetables, $480 million; pecans, $560 million; poultry, $25 million; peanuts, $20 million; timber, $374 million; and the landscape and green industry, $13 million.
“We have been knocked down, but we will not give up. We have our faith. We have each other. We will get through this. Stay strong, farmers. We are in this together," said Casey Cox, a sixth-generation farmer at Longleaf Ridge in Camilla, Ga.
To ensure Georgia farmers receive the assistance and support needed to recover from Hurricane Michael’s impact on Georgia’s No. 1 industry, the GDA has created a Facing the Storm press briefing to support information gathering. Please use this six page briefing which includes direct quotes, photos and additional resources to help tell the stories of farmers impacted by this catastrophic storm.
For more information on post-hurricane response, visit the GDA Hurricane Response Media Center, here.
About the GDA The Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) is the voice of the state’s agriculture community. The department's mission is to provide excellence in services and regulatory functions, to protect and promote agriculture and consumer interests, and to ensure an abundance of safe food and fiber for Georgia, America, and the world by using state-of-the-art technology and a professional workforce. For more information, visit www.agr.georgia.gov.