Fort Lauderdale—As cold, gloomy weather rolled into South Florida on Friday ahead of a cold front that will all but put the state into a freeze, so did Gov. Ron DeSantis, who reaffirmed his office’s position of helping farmers who will undoubtedly lose crops.
Gov. DeSantis said that the state has allocated resources to help the ailing Citrus industry and vegetable farmers in the event they require assistance as a result of losing crops to the cold weather.
Temperatures in Florida are expected to dip into the 20s as far down as Central Florida.
“They've had the canker problems, we have money in our budget, and will continue to do that,” said DeSantis. “Citrus is an important industry in Florida you know, we've been supportive and we’ll continue to do that.”
Back in June 2019, Gov. DeSantis announced that some $77 million in Hurricane Irma relief would be expedited to the citrus industry.
“The health of Florida’s iconic citrus industry is vital to our state’s economy,” said Governor DeSantis. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to step up to the plate and get funding to our citrus growers who are still recovering from Hurricane Irma. I look forward to continuing to work with the citrus industry and our federal partners to ensure we continue to expedite the release of these funds.”
While the price of food has skyrocketed as a result of nationwide inflation, the Citrus industry in Florida is expected to drop 11% in production during the 2021-2022 season.
Only 47 million boxes of oranges are expected to be produced.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), who is running for governor in 2022, is being blamed by some for the sharp drop in citrus production shine she took office in 2019, even though the spread of the greening disease is out of her control.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that during the 2019-2020 season, Florida’s citrus output would “hold” at 74 million boxes.
Citrus greening is to blame for the dropping orange production rates in the state, with the disease had infected 90% of all statewide orange groves.
"We remain committed to supporting our citrus producers with research, technology, and techniques to fight the spread of citrus greening," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement to Axios.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) department, there are several different kinds of diseases that are plaguing 'Big Citrus' that has put much of the state's citrus crop under federal quarantine.
If things couldn’t get worse for Florida farmers, the threat of foreign countries continuing to try to compromise Florida agriculture by using “unfair foreign trade practices” that are harming the state’s produce industry, is very real.
Both Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Fried have been pressuring the federal government to “level the playing field.”
“Florida farmers and American agriculture is the best in the world, and we are used to competition. But right now, we know Mexico and others are not fighting fair,” Commissioner Fried stated. “We need federal action to level the playing field for our seasonal producers and citrus farmers who drive our economy, create jobs, and feed our families.”