Atlanta, GA - On Wednesday August 30th, Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida as a Category 3 Hurricane and quickly moved into Georgia as a Category 2 Hurricane, bringing Hurricane and Tropical Storm force winds and heavy rainfall across much of South Georgia. The Department of Agriculture has already begun to receive reports of damage to crops, pecan trees, agricultural operations and infrastructure, and other GDA regulated entities across South Georgia. GDA staff is continuing to survey and assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia and is beginning the recovery process.
“As a 7th generation farmer, I know firsthand the devastating impacts severe weather can have not only on our farmers and producers but on rural communities, local economies, and our state’s economy as a whole,” said Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper. “Since Monday, we’ve been onsite at the State Operations Center monitoring Hurricane Idalia, and our team and I are on the ground in South Georgia assessing the damage and speaking directly with impacted farmers, producers, and business owners. We are working overtime, in coordination with our State and Federal partners, to ensure farmers, producers, and other GDA licensed operations impacted by Idalia have the resources they need to recover and bounce back stronger than before.”
Across multiple Divisions and Programs, the Georgia Department of Agriculture licenses and regulates approximately 13,000 businesses located in the area impacted by Hurricane Idalia. These GDA Divisions and Programs include: Law Enforcement & Emergency Management Division, Animal Industry Division, Companion Animal/Equine Program, Livestock & Poultry Program, Georgia Meat Inspection Service, Food Safety Division, Food & Feed Rapid Response Team (RRT), State Agriculture Response Team (SART), Retail Food Program, Animal Health Division, Office of the State Veterinarian, Agricultural Inputs Division, and Fuel & Measures Division.
These Divisions and their staff will continue to work overtime to assess damage caused by Hurricane Idalia and provide recovery assistance to Georgia farmers and GDA licensed entities that have been impacted. Department staff are taking a risk-based approach, starting with businesses and operations in areas that experienced the most severe winds and flooding and working outwards. The Department will continue to work with farmers and business owners on the ground, industry leaders, and UGA Extension, as well State and Federal leadership to ensure the needs over every Georgian are met and that they have the resources needed to recover.
Initial Damage Assessments and Response:
It is still very early in the assessment process, below is an initial summary of observed and reported damage. This is subject to change as new information comes to light and the Department of Agriculture will provide updates as available. It will likely take weeks, if not months, to understand the full scope of the damage.
Crops & Agricultural Operations/Facilities:
- Multiple reports of downed Pecan Trees throughout the impacted area (Pierce, Echols, Lowndes, Cook, Brooks, Wilcox, Irwin, Ben Hill, and Crisp Counties - possibly more).
- Reports of Pecan crop loss throughout the impacted area.
- Multiple reports of tobacco crop on the ground unable to be harvested and likely loss of tobacco crop left in the field.
- Some produce damage with produce plastic torn and ripped up in some areas.
- Field corn down and in some case not able to be harvested, likely resulting in loss of corn still left in fields.
- Sweet corn laid down in the field.
- Some cotton twisted but likely recoverable.
- Minimal pine tree/forestry damage observed or reported.
- Hay barns, sheds, and other agricultural facilities mangled or torn down.
- Reports of irrigation pivots twisted and/or turned over.
- Power outages at livestock, dairy, and poultry facilities.
- Dairies: 4 Dairy operations currently on generators - 3 in Brooks County, 1 in Thomas County.
- Swine: 2 Swine operations currently on generators - 1 in Berrien County, 1 in Brooks County.
- Poultry: Multiple poultry operations currently on generators in Coffee County.
- 2 operations reported roof damage.
- 2 flooded poultry houses.
- Stockyards: No damage reported at local stockyards, expected to resume normal operations next week.
Georgia Department of Agriculture Facilities:
- Valdosta State Farmer’s Market sustained roof damage
- Savannah State Farmer’s Market without power, no other damage reporter
GDA Regulated Facilities:
- Several poultry houses have reported damage due to wind, power outages, and flooding - steps have been taken to mitigate these situations.
- 54 Animal Shelter checks have been made in 25 counties, 8 have reported damage or power outages, all staff and animals reported safe.
- No damage reported at livestock markets, normal operations expected to resume next week.
- Some licensed meat processing facilities have reported power outages, generators are being used to maintain and store meat at proper temperatures.
- The office of the State Veterinarian issued a discretionary enforcement notice suspending enforcement of animal entry requirements until 9/30.
- Reports of 3 veterinary practices in the Valdosta area sustaining damage and/or loss of power.
- Animal owners in the affected areas: Be on the lookout for changes in normal behavior in your animals due to the stressful conditions created by Hurricane Idalia. If you notice any changes, please reach out to your veterinarian immediately.
- Assessment of GDA Food Safety regulated facilities will start today.
- Multi-agency Food & Feed Rapid Response Teams (RRT) have been activated as well as the State Agricultural Response Team (SART).
- GDA Food Safety has developed an emergency response online self-reporting form for regulated entities to report damage.
- Food Safety will assess and address damage on a risk-basis to ensure the safety and security of the food supply in impacted areas.