Earlier this week, Farm Credit of Central Florida attended the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference. The UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department hosts this conference to examine policy issues that are facing Florida agriculture and Florida agribusinesses. Here are five things we learned:
1. The University of Florida has received their planting permits for industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is Cannabis sativa with THC<0.3% per dry weight. A potentially valuable and impactful alternative crop.
Industrial hemp can be used for:
Food (hempseed oil)
Building material (hemp Crete)
Medicinal (CBD extract)
2. The leading crops in Florida in 2017 were:
Citrus (Total): 33% of U.S. value and valued at $1.18 billion.
Oranges: 56% of U.S. value and valued at $1.07 billion.
Strawberries: 10% U.S. value and valued at $337 million
Tomatoes (Fresh Market): 34% U.S. value and valued at $262 million
Bell Peppers (Fresh Market): 32% U.S. value and valued at $206 million
Blueberries: 10% U.S. value and valued at $84 million
3. Overview of Florida Agriculture:
Total value of livestock, poultry and their products is $1.7 billion.
Total Value of Agriculture Products is $7.7 billion.
Total value of crops is 6.0 billion
Fruit: $1.85 billion
Vegetables: $1.35 billion
Nursery: $1.72 billion
4. Farm Bill Achievements:
Preservation/Enhancements of current funding:
-Safety net programs/crop insurance
-Sugar policy unaffected
-MPP renamed DMC with changes
-The $125 million in citrus greening research
-Establishment of animal vaccine bank
-$75 million pilot program for feral hog eradication
5. Strawberry harvesting has not changed in 100 years. But with the help from Harvest CROO Robotics it is going to make harvesting berries easier. A harvester will represent 30 pickers, up to eight acres will be picked in a day. The machine can pick a single berry in 8 seconds and in 1.5 seconds it will move to the next plant. The machine also grabs the leaves, inspects the plant and picks the ripe berries.
We find it important to serve our customers to the best of our ability. Staying up to date with the latest agricultural issues and new technology allows us to go above and beyond for our customers. We are thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow with this great industry.