Tallahassee, FL - Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam released the following statement yesterday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its citrus crop forecast for the 2015-2016 season:
“Today's citrus crop forecast further illustrates that Florida's citrus industry is on a precipice,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “Florida is synonymous with citrus, and without immediate and tangible support, as well as a long-term solution, Florida is facing the prospect of losing its signature crop and its more than $10 billion economic impact.”
Commissioner Putnam recently announced a multifaceted plan to provide Florida growers with more immediate support until a permanent solution is developed. That plan includes, among other things, a cost-sharing program for the removal or destruction of abandoned citrus groves to eliminate material that harbors citrus greening and the vector that spread the bacterial disease. This proposal is currently working through the legislative process as HB 7007 and SB 1010.
The USDA's forecast of 69 million boxes of oranges, weighing 90 pounds each, represents a decline of more than 71 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.