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Major Disasters and Severe Weather Caused Over $21 Billion in Crop Losses in 2023
Minnesota Ag Connection - 03/01/2024

AFBF has calculated crop and rangeland damage estimates since 2021 to provide a window into the impacts of natural disasters on domestic food production. This Market Intel updates total crop loss estimates across major weather events for 2023. Methodologies between 2022 and 2023 were changed slightly to cover more disaster events. Totals between years are not directly comparable. The methodology for these calculations is described at the end of this article.

Weather-associated production risk is a part of life for farmers and ranchers. Through heavy rain, hail, snow, winds and drought, farming families prepare land, plant and harvest knowing their livelihoods are reliant on local weather conditions. In 2023, 28 weather disasters, each with damages exceeding $1 billion, struck the U.S. coast-to-coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that 2023 ranked ninth in terms of the total inflation-adjusted economic impact of these events, with industries across the economy experiencing an estimated $92.9 billion hit (compared to $178.9 billion in 2022). With over 490 lives lost, these disasters will haunt impacted communities for years to come.

Updated crop and rangeland damage estimations for 2023 show the impacts of natural disasters on domestic farm production. The assessment puts total crop and rangeland losses from major 2023 disasters at over $21.94 billion, or 23.6% of NOAA’s total economic impact figure. Of that figure, nearly $12 billion in losses were covered by existing Risk Management Agency (RMA) programs as of February 2024. Nearly $10 billion in losses were not insured through RMA, existed outside policies’ coverage levels, or did not qualify under an existing risk management program. Drought, excessive heat and wildfires alone accounted for over $16.59 billion in total crop losses; $3.99 billion was linked to excessive precipitation, flooding and hurricane events; and $1.37 billion was caused by hailstorms.

AFBF crop loss estimates do not include infrastructure damage, livestock losses, complete horticulture crop losses or timber losses associated with the selected weather events. Estimates should be viewed as a minimum baseline since data to estimate these other categories are not readily available. More comprehensive analysis on individual storms may be available from local land-grant universities. For instance, Louisiana State University estimated $1.69 billion in agricultural losses from excessive heat and drought in the state, which was linked to more granular survey data and far exceeds our estimated $318 million Louisiana total. LSU’s estimate includes comprehensive livestock, timber and more accurate specialty crop baselines that aren’t included in this analysis.

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