North Florida Farm Bureaus send aid to cattlemen post-Ian

Fence posts, barbed wire and cattle feed are not on most peopleÂ’s hurricane preparation lists – but North Florida Farm Bureau chapters are making sure Central Florida cattlemen have what they need to recover their livestock.

“What we’re sending is mostly agricultural help,” said Jeremy Rolling, President of Holmes County Farm Bureau.

Rolling worked with Farm Bureau chapters all across North Florida from Escambia to Duval Counties to collect about $40,000 in funding to purchase critical supplies for cattlemen in areas affected by Hurricane Ian.

“The federal government is going to have your water, MREs and tarps but they don’t have these supplies there. That’s one of the biggest cattle areas in the state,” Rolling said.

Recovering wayward cattle after a natural disaster happens in phases, according to Dusty Holley, Director of Field Services at Florida CattlemenÂ’s Association.

“We mobilize pretty quickly after a disaster,” Holley said. “When you’re in an industry like ours, not everyone knows how to patch up a fence or cut up trees properly or round up cattle.”

Holley said itÂ’s a triage operation as a storm clears.

“People have real big hearts but it takes time to gather up that stuff and deliver it somewhere,” Holley said.

Farmers and livestock owners in different parts of the state prepare for storms in different ways.

“If you see tractors out in the middle of fields that means a hurricane is coming,” Holley said, adding that equipment quickly becomes useless if trees or a structure has collapsed on top of it.

Holley said the aftermath of Ian is different from Michael because pastures in Central Florida are not lined with as many trees to bolster fencing needed to contain livestock creating a critical need for wooden posts and barbed wire to rebuild fencing.

Getting supplies and volunteers to where they are needed most has been a challenge due to flooding from rising waters in the Myakka and Peace Rivers that closed down major roadways.

“Now that water is going down, they can see and get to what needs to be fixed,” Holley said.

Locally, the Farm Bureau partnered with Arnold Lumber and McArthur Company to supply fencing materials and livestock feed that was loaded on semi trucks Monday headed to Arcadia Stockyard. Semis will carry pallets of barbed wire, wood posts, staples and feed.

Holley said livestock animals are pretty resilient when it comes to inclement weather as long as they have high ground to go to. By now, Hurricane Ian is an afterthought for roaming cattle.

“As soon as the storm is over, they are out there grazing like nothing happened,” Holley said.