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Intersection: Florida’s Citrus Industry’s Battle With Greening Disease And Damage From Irma

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Greening is a disease that weakens citrus trees. The fruit becomes unusable. Photo by Amy Green / WMFE

Florida’s citrus industry was already struggling with the effects of citrus greening disease. Then came Hurricane Irma, knocking fruit off the trees and damaging groves.

Kevin Bouffard, who covers citrus and agriculture in Polk County for the Lakeland Ledger, joined Intersection to talk about the challenges facing the citrus industry.

Citrus growers who been fighting citrus greening disease have little money left to fix the damage done by Hurricane Irma, he said.

“All the money they’ve spent fighting greening a lot of growers have pretty much exhausted their capital reserves,” Bouffard said.

“I suspect that’s the case for even big growers so this storm as been particularly devastating.”

Bouffard said in response to Hurricane Irma, the federal government came out with a $25 million loan program for citrus growers.

He said it is not nearly enough to address the damage but it is at least a bridge until growers get federal financial aid.

“Really, all growers I’ve talked to said its going to be hard to make it into next season unless they get some type of federal assistance,” he said.

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