Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service released requirements for open burning, effective November 2, 2018, in the following counties impacted by Hurricane Michael: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.
The Florida Forest Service created two geographical zones, primary and secondary, to identify hurricane-impacted areas with specific open burning requirements. Effective immediately through January 7, 2019, burning hurricane vegetative debris in the impact area zones requires an on-site inspection and burn authorization from the Florida Forest Service. Zone parameters are as follows:
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed at Disaster Debris Management Sites approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or with an Air Curtain Incinerator.
- On-site inspections are required for all burn authorizations.
- Broadcast burning is not allowed.
- Certified pile burning is allowed.
- Non-certified pile burning is allowed.
- Broadcast burning is allowed.
- Fire Supervisor approval is required for all burn authorizations.
“We have thoroughly evaluated the wildfire risks in these areas hardest hit by the storm,” said Jim Karels, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Our plan will effectively reintroduce open burning into these areas with firefighter and public safety as the primary focus.”
Due to the immediate need for certification, the Florida Forest Service is offering two courses:
Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through the Florida Panhandle resulted in significant damage to homes and property, including nearly 3 million acres of timberland. The volume of timber on the ground has created a serious threat, causing great concern for catastrophic wildfire danger in the short and long term. The Florida Forest Service has transported additional heavy equipment into the area and is working with state and federal agencies to assist with re-establishing fire lines.
To obtain a burn authorization in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson or Washington County, contact (850) 373-1801. To obtain a burn authorization in Franklin, Gadsden or Liberty County, contact (850) 681-5951. Certified burn authorizations may also be obtained by downloading the free FLBurnTools app in Apple App Store or on Google Play.
The Florida Forest Service will continuously evaluate current requirements to determine if restrictions are appropriate. For current wildfire conditions, interactive fire maps and more information on burn authorizations, visit FloridaForestService.com.
The fall breeding season starts soon, so asses your bull battery, contact your veterinarian to make arrangements for a breeding soundness exam, and start searching if replacement bulls are needed from area breeders. Photo credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS Extension.
Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
The fall breeding season starts very soon. If you have not assessed your bull battery recently, time is slipping away. Contact your large animal veterinarian to make arrangements to see that your bulls of all ages pass a breeding soundness exam. In addition, ask your veterinarian about the need for a trichomoniasis test. If the bulls’ feet need to be trimmed, this would be an excellent opportunity to get that done as well.
Bulls that do not pass a breeding soundness exam will need to be replaced before the start of breeding. Purchase the replacement from a production sale or nearby seedstock producer as soon as possible. Make sure they have passed a breeding soundness exam as well. It is advantageous to move the bull to his new environment several weeks before breeding.
Also a commonly asked question is the cow to bull ratio for young bulls. The old rule of thumb is to place the young bull with about as many cows as his age in months. Therefore the true “yearling” would only be exposed to 12 or 13 females. If he is a year and a half old (18 months), then he should be able to breed 15 – 18 cows. By the time the bull is two years of age, he should be able to breed 24 or 25 cows. Realize that tremendous variability exists between bulls. Some are capable of breeding many more cows than what is suggested here. AND sadly enough, a few bulls will fail when mated to a very few cows. Hopefully, a breeding soundness exam and close observation during the first part of the breeding season will identify those potential failures.
Bulls that will be placed together in multi-sire breeding pastures should be penned together for several weeks before the breeding season begins. Bulls WILL establish a social order. This needs to be settled before the first of the breeding season. We would prefer that cows are getting bred during the first part of the breeding season rather than bulls fighting each other.
Bulls are a sizeable investment in most cow-calf operations. Common sense management before the breeding season can give the best possible return on that investment.
For more information on this topic, use the following publication links:
Immature cotton flattened by winds from Hurricane Michael in Jackson County. Credit: Doug Mayo. UF/IFAS
Tom Nordlie, UF/IFAS Communication Services
Hurricane Michael caused production losses totaling $158 million for Florida’s agricultural industries in the 2018-19 growing season, according to economists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The dollar estimate, along with more detailed information, has been forwarded to state and federal agencies to facilitate relief efforts, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “No one understands the magnitude of this disaster more fully than our UF/IFAS Extension agents based in the Panhandle,” Payne said. “They rose to the occasion and connected with farmers, landowners and property managers to obtain raw data concerning the status of their crops before and after Hurricane Michael struck. We even used drones to obtain aerial images of crop fields. Then, the UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program team extrapolated from the raw data to produce a comprehensive figure for the entire affected area. To ensure that their calculations were accurate, the team engaged in discussions with state agencies, commodity groups and other academic experts to obtain their input.”
The $158 million figure represents lost sales revenues that producers would have received during the 2018-19 growing season if the storm hadn’t impacted them. Economists use the term “losses” to describe this outcome, said Christa Court, an assistant scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department and EIAP assistant director.
Soybeans flattened by winds from Hurricane Michael in Jackson County. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
“Our analysis did not address clean-up costs, repair and replacement costs for damaged property, medical and veterinary expenses, or any long-term economic effects of the hurricane,” Court said. “We needed to focus initially on developing the loss estimates needed for relief efforts, but we intend to continue to develop estimates for the broader economic impacts of the hurricane. County-level estimates will be released in the very near future.” Nearly 1 million acres of agricultural crops, not including timber, were impacted throughout the Panhandle, Court said.
The economic analysis team calculated crop loss estimates for 25 Florida counties, for commodities that included field crops, row crops, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, greenhouse and nursery crops, as well as beef, dairy, poultry and other animal products, she said. The most serious impacts occurred in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties, which experienced hurricane-force winds of 111 to 155 miles per hour, corresponding to the Category 3 and 4 hurricane ranges.
Virtually all of the state’s cotton crop was wiped out, with losses totaling $51 million on more than 145,000 impacted acres. When the hurricane made landfall in Bay County on Oct. 10, annual harvesting efforts had just begun, and more than 90 percent of the crop remained in the field.
More than 245,000 acres of peanut were impacted, resulting in losses of $22 million.
Field corn, which saw a 100 percent loss on many farms where harvesting was not already completed, had more than 66,000 acres impacted and losses totaling $5 million.
Hay had the greatest acreage impacted – a total of 247,000 acres, with losses of $2 million.
Specialty crops in the Panhandle also suffered significant losses, including $39 million for greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, $9 million for vegetables and melons, $4 million for fruits and $3 million for tree nuts including pecans.
Field reports indicate that a significant number of livestock animals went missing after the hurricane, including beef cattle, deer, horses and hogs. Most of the animals disappeared from sites with damaged fencing or enclosures. Total production losses for the expected three to six weeks of disruption to animal agriculture operations in the region were estimated at $23 million.
In addition, the Florida Forest Service, a division of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, estimated Florida’s timber losses at $1.29 billion for pine, mixed upland hardwood and bottomland hardwood timber across a total of 2.81 million acres, in a report released Oct. 19. These figures represent timber that would normally be harvested over several years, Court said, and should not be viewed as a one-year loss figure. Therefore, total timber losses caused by Hurricane Michael cannot be directly compared with agricultural crop losses involving plants that are grown and harvested in a single year, such as cotton.
The UF/IFAS economists concluded that Hurricane Michael was the most serious natural disaster to impact agricultural and natural resources industries in the Florida Panhandle in decades.
Read the full preliminary report:
There are a variety of programs from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will be available to help farmers, ranchers, and timberland owners in the counties effected by Hurricane Michael. The majority of the programs are administered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also has programs in place that can benefit landowners recovering from the hurricane. Below are brief descriptions of several of the most pertinent programs. More details on the specific programs are available by viewing the linked fact sheets. These programs will also be explained in detail at a series of producer meetings.
- FSA Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – LIP provides benefits to livestock producers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or by attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the Federal Government. LIP payments are equal to 75 percent of the average fair market value of the livestock. LIP Fact Sheet
- FSA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm Raised Fish Program (ELAP) – ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, such as losses not covered by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). ELAP Fact Sheet
ELAP covers losses of purchased feedsuffs from a hurricane. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
- –FSA Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) – EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) land in order to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster. Available funding for EFRP is determined annually by Congress. EFRP Fact Sheet
- FSA Tree Assistance Program (TAP) – TAP provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. TAP Fact Sheet–
- FSA Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) – ECP helps farmers and ranchers to repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and to help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. The ECP does this by giving ranchers and farmers funding and assistance to repair the damaged farmland or to install methods for water conservation. ECP Fact Sheet
The Emergency Conservation program provides cost-share funding to remove debris and repair fences. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
- FSA Emergency Farm Loans – Emergency loans are available to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to drought, flooding, other natural disasters or quarantine. Emergency Farm Loans Fact Sheet
- NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Farmers, ranchers, and non-industrial private forestland owners can apply for resource assistance through EQIP. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, and non-industrial private forestland. Recovery assistance includes, but is not limited to: immediate soil erosion protection, minimizing noxious and invasive plant proliferation, protecting water quality, restoring livestock infrastructure necessary for grazing management, emergency animal mortality management. EQIP Fact Sheet
If you are interested in participating in any of these programs, the first step is contacting your county’s USDA Service Center and setting up an appointment. Use the Service Center Locator to find the contact information for your Service Center. NOTE: At the time this document was compiled, due to damage to the Blountstown Service Center people from Calhoun, Liberty, Franklin, and Gulf Counties were being directed to the Quincy (Gadsden County) Service Center.
Additional information about federal disaster recovery programs is available at www.farmers.gov.
Florida farmers and ranchers who suffered damage to working lands and livestock mortality due to Hurricane Michael are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Agricultural producers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla and Washington counties are eligible to apply for assistance. The first sign-up period ends Nov. 16, 2018. A second sign-up period will end Dec. 14, 2018. This assistance is available to individual farmers and ranchers to aid in recovery efforts on their properties and does not apply to local governments or other entities.
Conservation practices available through EQIP can protect your land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair, and can help mitigate loss from exceptional storm events in the future. Farmers and ranchers seeking financial and technical assistance through EQIP should visit their local NRCS office to sign up. Bonifay, Marianna and Quincy field offices are open to serve producers in Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties until the Blountstown Field Office is repaired.
For more information on NRCS and the EQIP program, visit the Florida NRCS website. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, visit farmers.gov/recover.