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Citrus Growers Need Robust Farm Bill Programs

Since 2000, total domestic production of oranges dropped 80 percent, while grapefruit production declined 88 percent, highlighting the need for robust farm bill programs for the citrus industry.

Danny Munch, American Farm Bureau Federation Economist, says much of the decline is from citrus greening disease. Munch; “Before 2014, Florida consistently produced over 70 percent of the nation’s oranges. This year will be the first year that the state of California surpasses production of oranges over Florida. And that’s not because California is increasing production but because orange production in Florida has fallen 90 percent in the past 20 years.”

The decline means much of the U.S. citrus supply now comes from imports.

Munch; ”Since 2000, our imports of citrus products have jumped over 300 percent, primarily from countries like Mexico, Peru and Chile for fresh citrus. The United States historically led the world in production. Back in 1970, we produce nearly 50 percent of the world’s oranges. In 2000, we dropped to 25 percent, and this year it’s estimated to be at five percent. And many consumers might notice that their orange juice is switched from being 100 percent U.S. grown to now a mixture with another country.”

Munch says the farm bill can help citrus growers navigate these challenges; “We support the reauthorization of programs including the Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund. They’re really essential to finding effective and financially sustainable solutions for farmers dealing with diseases and invasive pests. Additionally, 40 percent of grapefruits, 20 percent of oranges are not covered by existing risk management programs, so like with many specialty crops, ensuring that crop insurance is improved to provide affordable and productive protection against natural disasters is important.”

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