Since my last message to you, Florida’s Panhandle and parts of Southwest Georgia were devastated by Hurricane Michael. The third most powerful storm to ever make US landfall, hit an area that, while not hugely populated by big city standards, is home to a very large, and vibrant, agricultural community.
Forestry, cattle, and row crops are the lifeblood of the inland area north of the coast where Michael made landfall. The damage in that area is truly unbelievable, if I hadn’t seen it firsthand, it would be very hard for me to fathom the widespread devastation. Like a 60 mile wide tornado, Michael brought Category 4 Hurricane Force winds over 75 miles inland, and was still a major hurricane all the way into Georgia truly a historic and monstrous storm.
Over 1 million acres of forestry land sustained 100% loss, while 3 million acres sustained anywhere from 90-95% loss. Farmers in the area lost barns, equipment, homes, and in the case of cotton even total crops. The area’s cattle ranch’s felt the biggest hit on their fences. In some cases literally every single tree on their fence lines came down right on the fence, resulting in thousands of miles of downed fence, some of it on major highways.
In the weeks since the hurricane FCA has been actively involved in helping Panhandle Cattlemen rebuild. FCA has provided and helped coordinate chainsaw and fence building crews, along with heavy equipment in an effort to get the most crucial perimeter fences put back up. FCA members from across the state volunteered to spend as much as two weeks working for free, camping out, and surviving on their own giving of their time, money, talents, and sweat of the brow. The Foundation has taken in thousands of dollars of donations from individuals, businesses and other organizations from across the county. Those donated monies were (and are still being) used to purchase everything from Chainsaws to semi loads of post and barbed wire.
While we can’t do it all, we pray that our movement to help has encouraged others to do so as well. Thank you to all FCA members, counties, and the organization as a whole for their donations. Continued prayers for those affected are always appreciated. The recovery in the panhandle will be continuing for some time, if any of you would like to take a fencing or chainsaw crew to the affected area, or would like to make a monetary donation please don’t hesitate to contact the FCA Staff, whose numbers can be found in this publication.
While we in Agriculture have been helping others rebuild, many outside of our industry continue to have a negative opinion of our industry in terms of environmental impact. Lots of fingers are pointed in lots of directions and we cannot be quiet when it comes to this topic. We must continue forth and do what is best for our herd and our environment. We must advocate for our conservation efforts, and show that the cattle industry in Florida benefits our environment as a whole and does not have an adverse effect.
One way to show our good work is to participate in the #showyourpassion campaign. So far that hashtag, and the post associated with them, have continued to make headway and has been shared all over the world, this social media presence is necessary to remain relevant with our ever changing society. These situations show the importance of maintaining and growing the FCA’s membership, so please get out there and both recruit members and advocate for our industry.
God blessed us with yet another year to come together and give thanks and praise for what we have and what our future holds. While the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, I pray everyone has a great Christmas, and ask that you enjoy the time you have with your families. If your neighbor does not have family, remember that in God’s eyes we are all family so invite your neighbor to join you. In this season, no one should be alone.
God bless you all, and remember to #showyourpassion.