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Grower Response Needed After a Disaster

Jim Rogers Tip of the Week

By Christa Court

Disaster events, such as extreme weather events (hurricanes, floods, droughts, etc.), have always been and will continue to be a threat for growers. Impacts to a citrus grove might include production losses associated with fruit drop from surviving trees and asset damages to buildings, machinery/equipment, irrigation systems and destroyed trees. Producers might also incur increased costs for additional production inputs that have to be reapplied, as well as cleanup and repairs.

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After a significant disaster event, timely provision of credible estimates of agricultural losses is a critical component in the processes of official disaster declaration and disaster relief and recovery.  The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Economic Impact Analysis Program (EIAP) is recognized as a reliable and unbiased source for this information for the state of Florida.

One of the most important steps in the delivery of this information is a post-event survey to collect primary information on losses and damages from growers and Florida Cooperative Extension faculty throughout the state. Survey responses and subsequent analyses provide data and insights to industry associations, government agencies, policy makers and emergency management personnel. Responses are used for managing emergency planning exercises, emergency response specific to agriculture and natural resource systems, and strategies for adjustment or development of policy tools associated with resilience at the local, state and national levels. 

Through research and Extension efforts, the EIAP aims to educate stakeholders and inform decision-making processes by answering the following questions:

  • How vulnerable are agriculture- and natural resource-based communities to natural disasters?
  • What people, assets and crops/products are at risk in these communities?
  • How can we improve unbiased, timely and accurate estimates of losses and damages following a natural disaster?
  • What are the most efficient and cost-effective management strategies to increase disaster resilience in agriculture communities?

Grower participation is key to the success and credibility of this program. If asked to take a survey after a disaster, please respond in a timely manner.

Christa Court is a UF/IFAS assistant professor of regional economics and director or the Economic Impact Analysis Program.

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