(Bloomberg) -- Florida’s farmers and ranchers are facing “widespread destruction” from Hurricane Ian that threatens to curb supply from a key US source of fruit and vegetables this winter.
Along with citrus crops the state is famous for, other fruit, vegetable, livestock and dairy operations have been devastated by the storm, the Florida Farm Bureau said by email.
Florida is a top US producer of fruits and vegetables, especially in the cooler fall and winter months. In addition to farm damage still being assessed, bee colonies are under threat, potentially impacting crops like blueberries, almonds and squash beyond the hurricane’s path.
“Any loses of honey bee colonies can lead to a reduction of honey bee pollination and a reduction of food reliant on that pollination,” said University of Flordia’s Jamie Ellis. “Fewer bees mean less food.”
Roughly 400,000 colonies are at risk, with many already known to be submerged in water and in distress, he said.
While the full extent of Florida’s agriculture losses aren’t yet known, it has become clear that in areas of Florida’s citrus belt, “there has been significant fruit dropped from the trees,” according to the bureau. “Fall vegetables once rooted are now lost.”
Farmers also are facing weeks of rebuilding while still without power.
Florida ranks third in the US for both fruit and nut crop sales and in total cash receipts for vegetables, melons and potato crops, according to the University of Florida.
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