Reps. Yoho, Soto Call on USDA to Stabilize Florida Orange Juice Market

Daniel CooperCitrus, hurricane, Industry News Release, Orange Juice

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Yoho

Reps. Ted. S Yoho (FL-03) and Darren Soto (FL-09) led a bipartisan letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture increase funding for orange juice purchases in Florida to $90 million, doubling the initial allocation from this past summer. 

After Hurricane Irma, Florida orange production dropped precipitously from 68.7 million boxes in 2017 to 45 million boxes in 2018. In response, local juice processors purchased a large number of Brazilian oranges. This year, Florida orange groves bounced back much quicker than expected and produced 71.4 million boxes.

Now, Florida faces a short-term oversupply of oranges for 2020 which will cause a sharp drop in the estimated price from $2.60 to $1.60 per box, likely putting many local citrus growers out of business. In response, Reps. Soto and Yoho are leading a critical letter to protect these growers from an expected one-year glut.

“We should fight to protect Florida’s signature agriculture crop: orange juice,” stated the letter. “After many years of setbacks in the orange juice industry, due to citrus greening and hurricanes, it is a uniquely important call of action to protect growers this year.” Some Florida growers have indicated that without such protections for this year’s crop, many farmers face the prospect of closing down their orange operations.

See the full text of the letter below.


November 20, 2019

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue,

We urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Agriculture Marketing Service or the Trade Mitigation program, to fully and fairly consider increasing the funding allocation for orange juice purchase to $90 million dollars.[1] On July 25, 2019, the USDA, through the Agriculture Marketing Service, announced up to $47 million for distribution to various food nutrition assistance programs.[2]  

We should fight to protect Florida’s signature agriculture crop: orange juice. Florida’s orange juice inventory increased significantly and unexpectedly after the devastation of Hurricane Irma. However, because the processors entered into agreements with international orange juice companies, the domestic supply substantially exceeds the projected need, forcing extreme downward pressure on prices for growers. The Florida Department of Citrus projects an average price of $1.62 per pound solid for oranges picked through March, which is nearly a dollar less from the 2017-2018 average price of $2.59 per pound solids.[3]

After many years of setbacks in the orange juice industry due to citrus greening and hurricanes, it is uniquely important to protect growers this year. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter

Sincerely,

Darren Soto
Member of Congress
Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M
Member of Congress
Neal P. Dunn
Member of Congress
Al Lawson
Member of Congress
Gus Bilirakis
Member of Congress
Mario Diaz-Balart
Member of Congress
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress
Kathy Castor
Member of Congress
Ross Spano
Member of Congress
Donna E. Shalala
Member of Congress
Ted Deutch
Member of Congress
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Member of Congress
John H. Rutherford
Member of Congress
Bill Posey
Member of Congress
Charlie Crist
Member of Congress
Val Demings
Member of Congress
Lois Frankel
Member of Congress
Stephanie Murphy
Member of Congress
Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress

Source: Office of Congressman Ted Yoho

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