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Feds lift ban on Florida citrus shipments to other citrus states

Florida grows about three-quarters of the country’s orange crop.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times (2004)

Florida grows about three-quarters of the country’s orange crop.

Federal officials have lifted a ban on commercial citrus shipments from Florida to the 10 other states and U.S. territories that grow the crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lifted the ban Thursday, three years after it quarantined Florida oranges and grapefruits because of crop pests and diseases.

Research now shows fresh fruit that has been disinfected isn't at risk of spreading canker, a bacterial disease that blemishes fruit but is harmless to humans.

"It's good for farmers, good for the public," said Florida's Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. "We're very happy to have fruit shipments going again."

Florida is the nation's largest orange producer and grows about three-quarters of the U.S. crop. About 90 percent of the state's fruit is used to make orange juice.

The Florida orange crop this season is expected to be 136 million boxes, each weighing 90 pounds, down 16 percent from last season's final count.

Lifting the ban could mean millions of dollars in increased revenue for Florida's growers, said Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows.

For example, the year before the ban, Florida shipped about $12 million worth of citrus to California. However, California has been forced to find other citrus sources for the past three years, and it's not guaranteed that it will turn back to Florida growers, Meadows said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Feds lift ban on Florida citrus shipments to other citrus states 10/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:59pm]

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