Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam released the following statement on March 9, 2017 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its monthly citrus crop forecast for the 2016-2017 season, which is down four-percent from the February forecast:
“Although not unexpected, today’s historically low forecast is the latest example of citrus greening’s continued devastation of Florida’s citrus industry. Until a long-term solution is discovered, which some of our state’s brightest minds are working on, we must support Florida’s multi-billion dollar citrus industry and the more than 60,000 jobs it supports.”
The USDA’s March 9th forecast of 67 million boxes of oranges for the 2016-2017 season is down more than 17 percent from the 81.5 million boxes harvested last season. This forecast represents a decline of more than 70 percent since the peak of citrus production at 244 million boxes during the 1997-98 season.
In support of Florida’s growers and industry groups seeking approval from the EPA for the use of certain antimicrobial treatments to combat greening, a bacterial disease spread by a tiny, invasive insect, Commissioner Putnam issued a crisis declaration in 2016 regarding their Section 18 application to the Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the immediate use of these treatments.