Extension Agents Work to Accurately Measure Hurricane Michael Damage

Extension Agents Work to Accurately Measure Hurricane Michael Damage

Agent and farmer talk

Mark Mauldin, Washington County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, speaks with a producer about his hurricane losses

Hurricane Michael will always be recalled as a milestone in the lives of many Florida Panhandle residents. The course of people’s lives has been altered irrevocably.  Depending on the location within the storm’s footprint, the damage was minor to absolutely devastating. Any tangible asset in the path of the venial weather event was subject to traumatic physical abuse.

After the winds subsided, Extension faculty from every corner of the Northwest Extension District stepped out of the sheltering protection of their homes to assess personal damage and begin the recovery efforts for themselves, and the clients they serve.  One of the many Extension initiatives undertaken to aid recovery efforts has been the assessment of damage to agricultural crops. State and Federal agencies, the news media, insurance companies and many more are interested in the monetary losses resulting from this category four storm.

Dr. Alan Hodges at the University of Florida’s Food and Resource Economics Department is the assembly point for the data. He provided a survey instrument which was developed in conjunction with district faculty and staff. The internet-based questionnaire was printed out by many who engaged farmers and livestock producers in areas where cellular service was inoperative because of hurricane damage.

We went to check on the farmers and ranchers in the area to see what we can do to help their situation,” said Ethan Carter, Regional Crop Integrated Pest Management Agent who is based in Marianna, Florida. “All were happy to see us and willing to share their experiences,” he said.  While assisting others, Carter’s house was unlivable. It had multiple large trees on the roof, some with piercing branches reaching the floor rendering the home a danger to enter for months to come.

It was a bit challenging to navigate some of the roads, especially the dirt roads which were really rutted,” said Mark Mauldin, Washington County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent. “Miles of fences are down, cattle scattered and the hay is wet. It will take a long time for producers to recover from this hit,” he said.  Mauldin took his family to a safe location to ride out the storm, but returned to Chipley the day after the storm passed ready to serve his community. Like so many others, he was out of power for weeks, but did not have damage directly to his home.

damaged barn

Many producers in the effected area suffered severe damage to buildings, equipment and crops

Stacy Strickland, Osceola County Extension Director, led a team which worked on damage assessments in Jackson County. Jim Fletcher, Regional Specialized Water Agent from the Central Extension District, flew a drone over field and vegetable crops to collect photo images for spectral analysis assessment which is used to measure the longer term health prospects of crops.

The survey effort by Extension Agents is continuing in the effected counties. The injury to farms, cattle operations, specialty crop production and all other phase of agricultural are being collected to measure the damage and tell the story of Hurricane Michael’s wrath and the indomitable spirit of north Florida’s agriculture community.

To learn more about north Florida’s Extension Agent’s efforts to collect agricultural damage information, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.

Help Feed the Hungry – The UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge is Underway!

Help Feed the Hungry – The UF/IFAS Extension Peanut Butter Challenge is Underway!

Donate jars of unopened peanut butter to your County Extension Office for delivery to local food pantries. Paul Davis, 4-H youth development agent, and Julie McConnell, horticulture agent, both with UF/IFAS Extension Bay County, stand next to their 2016 peanut butter donations.

If you want to help feeding hungry people in Florida’s Panhandle this year, you can donate peanut butter during the annual Peanut Butter Challenge, coordinated by UF/IFAS Extension.

Thanks to a partnership of UF/IFAS Extension and the Florida Peanut Producers Association, food pantries from Pensacola to Monticello will receive thousands of jars of donated peanut butter this December.

From October 1 through November 21, you can donate unopened jars of peanut butter to your local UF/IFAS Extension county office, and other drop off points in each participating county.

Since 2012, the volunteers and UF/IFAS Extension faculty have collected jars of peanut butter from residents, volunteer groups, and businesses in 16 northwest Florida counties. “Last year, UF/IFAS Extension county offices received 6,222 jars of peanut butter,” said Libbie Johnson, agricultural agent for UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County and co-organizer of the Challenge.

In addition to these donations, the Florida Peanut Producers Association also contributes, supplying more than 3,000 jars each Challenge,” Johnson said.

The Peanut Butter Challenge not only raises awareness about the important contribution of North Florida’s peanut growers to the state’s peanut industry, but also helps provide a healthy, locally produced product to food-insecure families in Northwest Florida,” Johnson said.

Check out the YouTube video produced to share the importance of this nutritious food for local food pantries.


Featured Video:  UF/IFAS Farm to City Project

Featured Video: UF/IFAS Farm to City Project

This week’s featured video was produced by the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center (WFREC) to showcase the teamwork of farmers, UF/IFAS faculty and staff, FFA Chapters, Boy Scouts, food banks, and numerous community partners and sponsors that work together on the annual Farm to City project.  This cooperative effort provides 800 needy families in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties with fresh, locally produced vegetables for their Thanksgiving meals.  Watch the video to learn more about this great community service project that takes place each fall.


If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across an interesting or humorous video related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo


Author: Doug Mayo – demayo@ufl.edu

Lead Editor for Panhandle Ag e-News – Jackson County Extension Director – Livestock & Forages Agent. My true expertise is with beef cattle and pasture management, but I can assist with information on other livestock species, as well as recreational fish ponds. Follow me on Twitter @UFCowman or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/UFJacksonCoFL/

Future Livestock Producers are Developed through Local Livestock Shows

Future Livestock Producers are Developed through Local Livestock Shows


Christian Rodriguez of Live Oak, with his Brahman Heifer, Welu. Credit: Tyler Jones

Audrey Bodiford, of Jay, FL, winner of the 2017 SRC Fair & Youth Livestock Show Spirit Award.

Santa Rosa County Extension Agents have worked closely with the Santa Rosa County Fair over the last five years to grow the livestock show. The Santa Rosa County Fair (SRC Fair) is held in April each year, but requires considerable planning throughout the year. The board has many sub-committees that focus on the various events of the fair. These committees meet numerous times throughout the year planning their specific activities.  Their efforts come together on opening day to make the SRC Fair and Youth Livestock Show an enjoyable time for our area residents. With the support and efforts of the Gulf Coast Agriculture & Natural Resource Youth Organization (GCANRYO) and the Santa Rosa County Fair Board, the livestock show has grown from a handful to over 300 youth participants this year.

Jenny is just one example of how these type programs can nurture the development of life skills and passion for the livestock industry. Jenny was a very shy youth who had a passion for raising livestock. However, she struggled with communicating with adults outside her family who were prospective buyers and sponsors. She attended a buyer communication workshop that was presented at the local Extension Office. After attending the workshop, she was more comfortable pursuing financial support for her steer project. At the livestock show and sale, she informed the extension agents that she had secured a buyer for $3.00 a pound and had received over $2,500 in sponsorship’s for her project in 2016.  This year, her steer project was even more successful building on what she had learned the previous year.  At a nutrition workshop held at the beginning stages of the project year, Jenny shared that she had already secured $3,150 in sponsorship and had a buyer for her steer!  While securing auction buyers, and project sponsors is not a true commercial business model, the communication skills and self-confidence gained from this experience will aid these youth for the rest of their lives.

Livestock committees are tasked with ensuring all the infrastructure is in place for our 4-H and FFA youth to show and exhibit their livestock projects consisting of: beef cattle, swine, goats, poultry, rabbits and horses.  The 2018 SRC Fair and Youth Livestock show is just around the corner. It is open to youth across the Panhandle. If your kids, grandkids or neighbors have in interest in livestock, please share this information with them and their parents.  Offer them facilities and equipment to use for livestock projects, or just assistance getting started in the livestock industry.  Give generously of your time, talent and experience to volunteer and support your local livestock show.   Through organized shows, farmers and ranchers can make a difference in the lives of youth that  will impact them for the rest of their lives.  These are the future leaders of our communities, and in some cases of the agricultural industry in this region.  Find a way to get involved, even if only through financial contributions.

Key Upcoming Dates for the Santa Rosa County Fair:

  • Saturday, November 4, 2017 – Market Steer Weigh-in and registration – 3 pm- 5 pm
  • Saturday, January 6, 2018 – Market Hog Weigh-in and registration –  , 10 am – 12 noon
  • Livestock Show dates are:
    • March 29th – Youth Rabbit Show
    • April 1st  –  Youth Poultry Showmanship
    • April 6th – Youth Goat Shows
    • April 7th  – Youth Beef Cattle and Hog Shows

For rules and further information please visit the SRC Fair website.

Farm Bureau Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for Agriculture

Farm Bureau Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for Agriculture

De Soto County Citrus after Hurricane Irma. Source: FL Farm Bureau

Farmers and ranchers throughout Florida are working tirelessly to restore food and fiber production for our state and the nation after Hurricane Irma wreaked destruction on much of the state. The total economic loss for agriculture is expected to be in the billions.

Fall Melons damaged by Hurricane Irma in St. Johns County. Source: FL Farm Bureau

Hurricane Irma significantly impacted Florida agriculture throughout the state.  Florida Farm Bureau is accepting tax-deductible donations to aid in relief to Florida farmers devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for Agriculture

Checks should be made payable to:

Florida Farm Bureau Women’s Fund
Memo: Hurricane Irma Relief for Agriculture
P.O. Box 147030
Gainesville, FL 32614

Please contact Staci Sims with additional questions.


Friday Feature:  UF Ag Students Pitch In with Irma Recovery

Friday Feature: UF Ag Students Pitch In with Irma Recovery

UF/IFAS Extension teamed up with students and faculty from the University of Florida College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and volunteers from the community to help a Pasco County blueberry farmer following Hurricane Irma.

Last week the featured video highlighted the terrible damage to the Citrus Industry in Southwest Florida caused by Hurricane Irma.  The damage from this storm was immense, but people all over the state are banding together to help people in need.  This week’s featured video, published by UF/IFAS News, shares how more than 200 volunteers from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the local community gathered on a hot, windy Saturday to save thousands of blueberry bushes damaged by Hurricane Irma on Frogmore Fresh Farm in Pasco County.

Read the IFAS News article for more details on what took place:

UF students, faculty among hundreds who replanted blueberry bushes damaged by storm


If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo