Irma’s Impact on Florida’s Orange Crops

Weeks after hurricane Irma, oranges are still falling from Florida’s iconic orange trees. According to Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the losses that Florida will be dealing with from Irma will be over $2.5 billion for damages sustained to all kinds of crops (“Official: Irma Was Lethal”). Some trees have been standing in three feet of water, and recent estimates have estimated the loss of more than 70% of this year’s orange crop (Dewey). Irma has accelerated the greening disease of the orange trees by increasing the number of trees affected and speeding the process in trees that are already blighted. America’s orange juice production is projected to drastically decrease, which will cause a change in the market for orange juice as 90% of Florida’s oranges are usually turned into orange juice around Thanksgiving (“Irma Devastates”). This is bound to have significant effects on American’s diets as their main sources of fruit come first from orange juice and apple juice, whereas Americans eat proportionally much less fresh apples, bananas, and watermelons (Dewey). Not to mention that orange juice production is a large business venture to which any damages will not only cause growers to be more likely to go out of business but also affect harvesters, factory workers, and anyone else involved in the production and sale of orange juice.

The loss of the orange crops could also lead to outsourcing fruit from other countries, in which case the typical American diet would not be affected as drastically. However, outsourcing fruit would cause permanent irreparable damage to Floridian orange growers. Damage from outsourcing will likely be irreparable as orange growers that are struggling to fix their enterprises will not be able to compete with their foreign competition. Many people will lose their jobs. A benefit of the loss of the orange crop is that if there is an increase in orange juice prices Americans may switch from drinking highly sugary orange juice to drinking milk or water, which would be better for Americans’ health, although Americans could just as likely switch to drinking other sugary beverages. With such large scale effects, it is challenging to come up with a solution for the problems that have arisen because of Irma’s impact on Florida’s orange crop, although it is certain that Floridians, especially those involved in the production and sales of oranges will either have to come back strong or find new jobs, which will be difficult given the number of people affected.

Sources:

Dewey, Caitlin. “Analysis | Hurricane Irma May Speed the End of Orange Juice, America's Biggest Source of 'Fruit'.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 Sept. 2017

“Irma Devastates Florida’s Iconic Orange Groves Ahead of Harvest.” New York Post, New York Post, 14 Sept. 2017.

 “Official: Irma Was 'Lethal' for Florida Citrus, Other Crops.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Oct. 2017.

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