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Agriculture Press Release

February 28, 2001

Four-year Drought Causes Growers Half-billion Dollars in Crop Losses

TALLAHASSEE – Florida farmers and ranchers have suffered $574 million in losses over the last four years due to the state’s lingering drought, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Terry L. Rhodes announced today.

A crop-by-crop analysis of the drought’s impact conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shows that the biggest losses were in field crops -- corn, cotton, peanuts, soybean and hay -- which collectively experienced a decline in sales of nearly $295 million since 1996. Most of those crops grow in North Florida and the Panhandle, and many of the farms in those regions are without irrigation systems.

Other crop losses or declining sales attributable to the drought during the period include:

  • Citrus - $82 million
  • Pasture - $79 million
  • Livestock - $43 million
  • Vegetables - $39 million
  • Watermelons - $36 million

"The drought has taken its toll on our growers, especially in the northern part of the state," Rhodes said. "And without much rain, farmers with irrigation systems are finding it increasingly expensive to produce crops."

In an effort to assist growers, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has helped obtain emergency disaster declarations for drought-impacted farmers in both 1998 and last year. Disaster declarations enable eligible growers to obtain federal grants and low-interest federal loans.

In addition, Rhodes’ office has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand crop insurance coverage.

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