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USDA Says Florida’s Citrus Crop Fared Better than Expected

October 12th, 2017 by Jake Stofan
Orange lovers got a bit of good news Thursday.
Irma’s damage to the states citrus industry isn’t quite as bad as first thought according to the latest projections released by the USDA, but the State’s Agriculture Commissioner is still seeking Federal help.
Irma is estimated to have wiped out 70% of the states citrus crop this year.
Early estimates projected the crop would have the lowest yield in 75 years.
The new projections show the crop fareed better than anticipated: Oranges are down 21% from last year.  Grapefruit and tangerines are down almost 40%.
While Irma is long gone, the damage is still pilling up every day.
“You can stand in the grove and continue to hear fruit fall,”Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam  Putnam said.
The wide spread scope of the damage will likely translate to higher prices at the grocery store.
“The alternative to that would be a flood of imports from foreign countries that could over time replace market share that should be going to Florida’s farmers,” said Putnam.
Putnam wants Congress to allocate $2.5 billion to help farmers around the state recover.
A Senate Committee heard from farmers Thursday.
3rd generation Citrus Farmer and Citrus commission chairman Ellis Hunt Jr. says he’d never seen damage as great as Irma’s.
“This time it got everything. We did not survive in any area and it’s just that widespread damage that’s the real devastation this go around,” said Hunt.
State Senator Dennis Baxley says the need for Federal assistance is imperative if the industry is to recover.
“The urgency is upon us and this is 20% of our economy is still agriculture, although Florida’s changed a lot,” said Senator Baxley.
Relief could be voted on as early as next week or as late as December.
The Disaster Aid bill passed through the US House of Representatives this afternoon.
The request for Agriculture relief wasn’t included.
The bill will be taken up by the US Senate next week.

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