Florida requests additional $5 billion for agricultural recovery following Irma

Lester Mason
October 12, 2017

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will release its first citrus production forecast for Florida's 2017-2018 Thursday after Hurricane Irma swept the Sunshine State more than a month ago, wiping away a majority of its treasured crop. "Initial total loss estimates in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria are as high as $15,000,000,000". At 54 million boxes, the Thursday federal estimate is almost double the figure that citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual projected previously.

"We request robust funding for the Stafford Act accounts within the Emergency Conservation Program and the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to rehabilitate farmland and further reduce longer-term production declines associated with Hurricanes Irma and Maria". In a survey of Florida growers conducted after Hurricane Irma, Florida Citrus Mutual estimated that Florida's orange yield would be 31 million boxes, the lowest count since 1942.

Irma, which dropped as much as 17 inches of rain on citrus- growing areas in a 24-hour period, made it impossible for farmers to reach their groves, with trees destroyed and fruit dropping to the ground unharvested, the USDA said.

In the season that ended September 30, orange output was 68.7 million boxes, the lowest since 1964, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

The California forecast is also lower than last year at 35.0 million boxes (1.40 million tons), down 11 percent from last season's final utilization, while the Texas all orange forecast, at 1.65 million boxes (70,000 tons), is up 20 percent from last year. Preliminary estimates show $760.8 million in damage to the citrus industry.

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