Huge economic loss expected for agriculture industry after Irma

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ORANGE HEIGHTS, Fla -- Many farmers across North Central Florida and the state were knocked down by Irma, and the economic loss for the agriculture industry is expected to be huge.

After a very wet summer, the owner of Browns Farm in Orange Heights said things were beginning to look better.

"They [his produce] were drying off a little bit, but then there comes this ten, twelve inches [of rain]; Irma, and it set us way back," said Roy Brown.

Brown grows 40-50 different types of vegetables on his farm.

"If you don't produce, you don't have income so yeah, it's been a struggle. We're well into our savings."

Officials with the Florida Farm Bureau in Gainesville said the economic loss for the state agricultural industry after Irma could be in the billions.

Damage assessments are still underway, but the bureau is estimating 60-70% of crop losses throughout the state which could not only affect producers, but consumers as well.

"Florida consumers may see some increased prices at the grocery store, but we're waiting to see to get hard data on that," said John-Walt Boatright, the bureaus' Coordinator of National Affairs.

The Bureau is currently working with state and federal officials to try and get disaster relief and emergency assistance to farmers which could be a multi-billion dollar package. The bureau is waiting to get exact numbers on damage assessments first which could take weeks.

"We're starting to replant and we're able to get into the fields," Brown said. "Dad used to say, 'its always dark just before day' so we're hoping for the best."

To donate to the Florida Farm Bureaus' disaster relief fund, visit www.floridafarmbureau.org, or make checks payable to Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Fund, Inc. and specify Irma disaster relief.