Report reveals Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact on rural Florida’s agriculture

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An uprooted tree, toppled by strong winds from the outer bands of Hurricane Ian, rests in a parking lot of a shopping center, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Cooper City, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

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A new report shows the disproportionate impact Hurricane Ian had on Florida’s rural agricultural areas.

Florida’s rural counties are home to 6 percent of the state’s population, which is 1.3 million residents.

And after Hurricane Ian brought unprecedented damage to Florida last year, rural Florida counties that rely on agriculture suffered.

A new report from the Environmental Defense Fund cites research from the University of Florida estimating over $2 billion in crop losses from Hurricane Ian.

Dawn Shirreffs is the Florida director for the Environmental Defense Fund.

“We saw inland communities who didn’t anticipate getting the type of devastation that they saw from the heavy rain in Hurricane Ian in 2022 are still trying to recover and figure out a path forward.”

The reports highlights that high temperatures and extreme weather events are impacting crop yields. It also explains how rural communities face higher energy costs, and extreme climate events can further increase energy costs.

Sherriffs hopes the report will inform legislators and the public on the layered effects of climate change. She says climate change impacts food availability, housing, and more.

“So we have to be able to sort of bring in these different layers of information and data, and really understand what is at risk because it is hard to justify difficult political decisions if you don’t understand what the cost of inaction looks like.”

You can read the full report on letstackleclimatechangeflorida.com

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