Hurricane Ian caused massive destruction in Florida and killed over 120 people—making it the state’s deadliest storm in nearly a century. The storm also claimed the lives of unknown hundreds of farm animals. A preliminary assessment by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found at least 250 cattle had died in the storm, and media outlets reported the loss of over 500 cows on two Florida dairy farms alone.
Each year hundreds of thousands of farm animals suffer terrible deaths in extreme weather events. Officials estimated that financial losses to Florida’s animal agriculture industry could reach $337 million to $492 million. The federal Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) typically reimburses farmers for a portion of such losses—thus passing significant costs on to American taxpayers. AWI has worked to secure language in federal spending packages that directs the USDA to work with producers to develop plans to protect animals during disasters. Extreme weather events are on the rise. While not all disasters can be predicted or avoided, having and executing a viable disaster plan to help mitigate the harm should be a prerequisite for receipt of LIP payments.