State funding for Florida citrus intact as growers hang on in unpredictable market

Florida’s troubled citrus industry, is seeing some light at the end of the tunnel now there is renewed consumer interest in orange juice. Also, there was more good news this summer, when governor Ron DeSantis’ coronavirus-driven budget cuts left funds for citrus untouched.

The 2020-21 state budget allocates $24.8 million to the Florida Department of Citrus, including $8 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, $7.4 million for the Citrus Health Response Program, and — most notably — $5 million in new funds requested by the Florida Department of Citrus for marketing

Florida’s citrus industry, mostly producing oranges, is valued at more than $8 billion, according to the Department of Citrus.

The Florida Citrus Commission and trade groups that requested the state marketing funds hope increased advertising will help the industry convert a spike in OJ sales into long-term consumer buying patterns. Sales of OJ nationwide had dwindled for years but surged with the arrival of coronavirus as consumers suddenly returned to the Vitamin-C-loaded juice to bolster their immune systems.

Sales in the spring rose by 41 percent over the prior spring, according to a Department of Citrus economic and market research report. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s July 10 crop report says Florida farmers grew 68 million 90-pound boxes of oranges in 2019-20, as the USDA had projected, a slight decline from the year before.


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