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Florida Cattle Ranchers ‘Hammered’ by Hurricane to Get Hay Aid

Florida Cattle Ranchers ‘Hammered’ by Hurricane to Get Hay Aid

(Bloomberg) — Hurricane Ian barreled through about 40% of Florida’s beef cattle industry, destroying barns and fences and killing at least a few calves, according to the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

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“Ranches are kind of wrecked,” Jim Handley, executive vice president of the association, said by phone from Kissimmee. Many ranchers were able to move animals to higher ground before the hurricane made landfall but one operation lost two newborn calves, he said.

The key for animals now is for water on pastures to recede so they can resume feeding before hunger becomes critical. Handley said ranchers from neighboring states will bring in hay and other supplemental feed to help.

“It hammered us pretty good,” Handley said. “It’s a gut punch.”

While Florida is not a major beef producer, the state provides supplies of young animals to top cattle states such as Texas and Oklahoma. Ranchers in the US Plains have also been battered by extreme weather — drought withered pastures and prompted herd-culling earlier this year, with fewer heads of cattle signaling higher meat prices in the future.

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