In Florida’s citrus growing counties, farmers are under the weather because an unwelcome guest.
“Florida is the largest producer of oranges in the entire nation. So when you talk about something that affects citrus in Florida you’re talking about something that has a ripple effect throughout our entire state economy,” said John Fleming with the Florida Retail Federation.
Citrus greening, a blight the Chinese call Yellow Dragon Disease, is spreading. Once a tree is infected un-ripened green oranges fall from the tree.
“I’ve never seen anything put Florida growers and Brazilian growers on the same page as much as the threat of this disease,” and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
The disease has no cure. Putnam says the outlook is dire. “There is not a long range cure on the table.”
Citrus is a 9 billion dollar industry for Florida, but greening and falling demand are threatening the future of the industry.
“This continues to be the greatest threat the state citrus industry has ever faced,” said Putnam.
The disease has already claimed 8,000 citrus jobs, 75,000 still work in the industry.
“It’s very important to the state of Florida. Talk about thousands of jobs this affects,” said Fleming.
Citrus is grown across the southern two thirds of Florida.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent creating a research foundation who’s goal is to stop the disease.