florida-agriculture.com

Agriculture Press Release

August 31, 2000

Crawford Announces Record Sales For Florida Farmers

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today that state farmers surpassed the $7 billion milestone in cash receipts for crops and other commodities sold in 1999.

The record sales of $7,065,378,000, fueled by a citrus sales record of $1.9 billion, was calculated and released by the Economic Research Service of USDA and represents a 5.6 percent increase over the previous years preliminary $6.7 billion estimate and a 1.5 percent increase over the revised $6.9 billion cash receipts figure for 1998.

The increase, coupled with declining sales among mid-western grain states and numerous other states, vaulted Florida from number nine to the fifth largest agricultural state last year. Net farm income rose to a record $2.8 billion, placing Florida fourth in the nation in that category.

"These results are testimony to the tenacity and ingenuity of Florida farmers to find a way to cut costs and increase production in the face of adverse weather and falling farm prices," Crawford said. "Our growers have every right to be proud of their achievements."

Florida farmers reduced their production costs by more than $230 million last year and increased their cash receipts at a time when national agricultural sales fell by more than 4 percent. Florida and California were the only major states to show increases. Moreover, 1999 marked the fifth straight year of increased sales for Florida growers after a mid-decade downturn triggered by what Crawford believes was the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Floridas lofty status was primarily attributable to a record $1.9 billion in citrus sales, up 14 percent from the previous years record $1.6 billion. Combined with modest gains in horticulture and sugarcane sales, it more than offset a 10 percent decline in vegetable, melon and berry sales.

Sales of oranges increased $184 million (13 percent), while grapefruit sales jumped $62 million (41 percent).

Sales of horticulture products rose $58 million (4.3 percent), and sugarcane sales increased $41 million (8.6 percent).

A 24 percent decline in tomato sales, a 17 percent drop in sales of bell peppers and a 6.5 percent decline in strawberry sales marred what otherwise would have been a decent vegetable year.

The same was true for the drought-impacted crops of corn, cotton and peanuts -- down a combined 16 percent in 1999 and down 28 percent over the last three years.

"Its unfortunate that drought and suppressed vegetable prices prevented a segment of our agriculture community from sharing in the full bounty of our progress," Crawford said.

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For more information:
Bob Blankenship
Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022


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