Hurricane Matthew hit Florida on Thursday, October 6. The storm is projected to cause damage through Georgia, North and South Carolina. With hurricanes, comes advanced notice and the agriculture industry has been preparing.
Those who have crops to harvest have been trying to get them out of the field. Livestock producers have been stocking up on water, feed and fuel. Jim Handley, executive vice president of Florida Cattlemen and CEO of Florida Beef Council, says they have to be ready to be self-contained.
“Primarily what ranching operations do is try and give their livestock room. They may mix some cow herds, within the same ranch, but they mix some herds. They wanna to make sure cows have access to higher grounds. Frankly, they do best if they are outside and not around a lot of infrastructure. The cows, themselves, get along pretty well,” said Handley. What they are really concerned about is their infrastructure.
He says blow down of fences becomes the biggest concern to the cattle. They want the cows to be safe, as well as, the public. Handley says some producers were even sending loads of cattle out at the beginning of the week to get ahead of the traffic.
After Hurricane Matthew moves through, Handley says, they will first check on their people. “(We will) work with law enforcement and the division of animal industry if we have a lot of cattle on the roads and scattered. We will gather some cow crews and go get those cows, like I said, put behind fences. And if it is a sustained amount of water that’s standing, it’s not uncommon, from ranch to ranch to share feeders and just move around and help people get through it,” said Handley.