The Florida citrus industry has an urgent need for disaster aid in the wake of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, 17 members of Florida’s congressional delegation advised the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations.
In a Dec. 8 letter, the U.S. representatives stated that Hurricane Ian impacts caused an estimated $675.5 million in preliminary damages to the industry. They reported that damage came from winds and “unprecedented water levels.” They added that Hurricane Nicole in November subsequently inflicted more damages, including additional fruit drop and standing water.
Following are excerpts from the letter:
“Citrus is one of Florida’s signature crops already facing a number of challenges including a trade imbalance from international entities, increased disease pressure, and loss of acreage over the past decade. Yet the industry remains a strong economic force in the state, providing more than 33,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $6.67 billion.
“Citrus forms the backbone of many rural communities throughout the state’s interior not only through processing plants and packinghouses but ancillary businesses such as banks, truck dealerships, plant nutrition companies, restaurants and equipment stores. The industry also provides extensive environmental benefits such as the production of 16.7 tons of oxygen a year, valuable aquifer recharge and wildlife habitat.
“A thriving citrus industry remains critical for Florida’s economy, environment and way of life. Growers are proud to produce products that support the economy, taste good and are good for you.
“Despite immense challenges, the industry has a long, bright future ahead of it, but growers require assistance to help recover from these recent storms. A timely and robust disaster supplemental appropriation is critically needed to respond to the devastation inflicted upon Florida’s agriculture sector and one of its signature crops, citrus.”
Representatives signing the letter were Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Kathy Castor, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Val Demings, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Carlos Gimenez, Al Lawson, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Maria Elvira Salazar, Darren Soto, Gregory Steube and Michael Waltz.
See the full letter here.
Source: Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
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