Development of an agricultural emergency data and economic analysis system
McKissick, John C.
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Agricultural natural disasters are subject to occur in any region of Georgia and at any time during the year. An efficient system to collect data and assess economic impacts requires that assessments be made on a timely basis utilizing currently available resources. Furthermore, the information must be analyzed in a timely manner and available to all agencies and groups requiring information as quickly as possible. The Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED) presents a plan for information flow in response to agricultural disasters. This information flow begins with existing data collection systems and enables timely analysis with quick circulation of a complete economic analysis. CAED has responsibility for conducting economic impact analysis so that one entity may provide information to the numerous agencies involved in disaster response. By federal authorization, farm level agricultural and economic loss data is collected by dully constituted County Emergency Boards (CEB) and submitted to the State Emergency Board (SEB). The State Office of the Farm Services Agency (FSA) manages data collection and tabulation for the SEB. SEB reports its findings to USDA Headquarters in order to determine counties qualifying for federal assistant programs. There are no statutory provisions for SEB to release loss information to any state authorities involved in disaster response or to the general public. Furthermore, data collected is far more extensive than that used to qualify counties for various emergency programs. There is no entity presently designated to compile loss information for Georgia disaster response beyond that required for USDA federal emergency aid. Current efforts are on an ad hoc basis with no formalized coordination among agencies beyond the work of SEB. CAED in cooperation with SEB has developed procedures for efficient release of information in the event of agricultural natural disasters. Disaster loss data collected by FSA includes affected crops with acres affected and percentage of normal value lost due to the disaster. Livestock and poultry are listed in terms of production units and percentage of value lost. Land lost is reported in acres, while the number of physical structures, equipment, and machinery are included. Land includes losses due to such causes as erosion, as well as long-term damage to orchards. Physical structures include dwellings and facilities for livestock and poultry. Equipment and machinery include farm implements, as well as on-farm processing equipment. Values for physical losses are included. Losses incurred by direct processors of agricultural products or other agribusinesses are not included in data collected by FSA. CAED summarizes county data into a state assessment of economic losses and disseminates this information to relevant officials and to the general public. CAED utilized this data flow with a prescribed plan of action for disasters occurring in 2005 as an example and test of disaster response procedures. Georgia experienced a period of excessive rainfall followed by a period of drought conditions. Direct production losses have further negative economic impacts as producers reduce operational inputs and services. Stages of production at the time of disaster are unknown, and total economic impacts are presented as a range that covers the beginning of production until the end of production. Direct agricultural losses due to excessive rain in 2005 were estimated to be $72.6 million. Total impact losses range from $85.5 million to $135.5 million. Drought conditions also affected agricultural production in 2005. Direct losses due to drought were estimated to be $273.7 million which leads to a range of negative impacts from $322.3 million to $479.4 million. Combined losses due to excessive rain and drought were $346.3 million with an impact range of $407.8 million to $614.9. CAED procedures make this analysis immediately available to each interested agency and in a consistent format. CAED recommends that the appropriate agencies adopt the outlined procedures for estimating and disseminating farm level economic impacts due to disasters. CAED’s normal functions are to compile and summarize agricultural data related to economic development in Georgia. CAED has developed a procedure that is coordinated with FSA. Data collected by FSA during disasters is the most suitable data available for determining direct losses to agriculture. Methods proven effective for determining economic impacts of disasters are currently in place, and CAED is prepared to execute its procedures when necessary and appropriate. The CAED further recommends that necessary data beyond the farm level be identified, and that appropriate and efficient collection, as well as analysis procedures be implemented. Development of an Agricultural Emergency Data and Economic Analysis System