Florida Citrus Still an Economic Force

Josh McGillAll In For Citrus Podcast, Economics

While the Florida citrus industry has seen its fair share of challenges from HLB and recent hurricanes, the industry still swings a big stick according to research conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The study, The 2020-21 Economic Contributions of the Florida Citrus Industry, was released in February.

Florida citrus
Photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Citrus

Christa Court, UF/IFAS economist and director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program, joins the latest episode of the All In For Citrus podcast to discuss the research. The Florida citrus industry is active in 27 counties. While production volume is down by 79% due to HLB, the industry contributed $6.935 billion to the state’s economy in the 2020–21 season. This included $1.425 billion from citrus fruit production (grower receipts), $5.334 billion from citrus juice manufacturing and $177 million from packinghouse sales of fresh citrus.

The citrus industry supported a total of 32,542 jobs in the state. The southern commercial citrus production area had the highest share of citrus industry employment contributions (9,637 jobs). Other regions were as follows: western (6,732 jobs), central (5,254 jobs), northern (5,158 jobs), Indian River District (2,591 jobs) and the rest of Florida (3,169 jobs).

“This data is important because it gives us a baseline of how an industry is contributing to Florida’s economy,” Court says. “And when I say baseline, it refers to when something unexpected happens to the industry like Hurricane Ian and the ongoing impacts of diseases (like HLB). If we know what the industry was contributing to the economy before these events occurred, it is easier to understand the impact of those events.”

That intel can be used in efforts to obtain economic relief after disasters like Hurricane Ian. In the podcast, Court also discusses research she and her team conducted to develop damage assessments after last year’s hurricanes.

To hear more about the economic impact of Florida citrus and damage from last year’s storms, check out the latest episode of All In For Citrus. The podcast is a joint partnership between UF/IFAS and AgNet Media.

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