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The State of Florida's Citrus Industry

Citrus has shaped the state’s identity for 100 years. But it has been a tough ten years with freezes, hurricanes, development pressure and, worst of all, citrus greening.

This week on Florida Matters we take a deep dive into the state of Florida’s citrus industry.

Our guests include:

Mike Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.

Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

Kevin Bouffard, reporter who covers citrus and other business topics for the Ledger in Lakeland.

The show accompanies a special two-part series WUSF aired this week on citrus.

One story looked at how the state’s political landscape affects the industry. Another profiled a family of longtime citrus growers and what they have to do to stay in the business.

We touch on those topics in the program, and talk about how competition from foreign imports can pose challenges to domestic growers.

We also talk about how agencies like the Florida Department of Citrus market products to consumers, and how the group is struggling with budget cuts.

We learn about new research efforts that are taking citrus studies out of the laboratories and into citrus fields.

And we talk about whether small growers can survive in an industry that costs more time and resources in which to succeed, especially as development and infrastructure projects present opportunities to sell their land for profit.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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