Florida Citrus Industry Is Getting Squeezed
It's believed the first citrus was brought to Florida in the mid-1500s by one of the early Spanish explorers, likely Ponce de Leon. The citrus industry in Florida has grown into a $9 billion per year industry that employs 76,000 people.
Florida is the second-largest orange juice producer in the world after Brazil and the the world's largest producer of grapefruit. More than 90% of America's orange juice is typically made from Florida-grown oranges. The Sunshine State produces more than 70% of of the United States' supply of citrus.
To say the citrus industry is vital to Florida's economy would be an understatement. That's why what's happening right now in Florida is causing panic.
The state has seen 90% of its groves ravaged by huang long bing, which literally means yellow dragon disease. More commonly known as citrus greening disease, it prevents raw green fruit from ripening. If the fruit does ripen, it falls to the ground before it can be picked, which makes the fruit unsellable under Florida law.
Florida’s Department of Citrus even called the disease "one of the most destructive foreign plant diseases imaginable" while saying it "has decimated the state’s iconic industry."
The disease, which first hit Florida in 2005, has already taken a heavy toll on the state. In 2004, there were more than 7,000 farmers growing citrus, according to a University of Florida study. Since then, nearly 5,000 have called it quits. About two-thirds of the state's juice processing plants have shut down. The report estimated 34,000 jobs were lost in the 10 years after the disease hit.
So what's the solution? Researchers are trying everything from developing new trees that can withstand the disease to creating genetically modified oranges. "We’re in a race right now to save the Florida citrus industry," said Michael Rogers, the director of the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center.
The bug that carries the disease, the citrus psyllid, reproduces so quickly that they become resistant to insecticides within a year. Spraying them has driven farmers costs up more than 50% since they were discovered. "Without advanced tools to control citrus greening, the citrus industry in Florida could be out of business within 10 to 15 years," the former head of Bayer’s research division said in 2017.
So while fake meat has been getting most of the attention lately, it may not be long before fake citrus fruits become commonplace.
No one could've seen this coming. Despite being told for over a year a trade deal is very close and China very badly wants to make a deal, the U.S. and China have reportedly hit a roadblock in negotiations. The U.S. is seeking concessions from China to regulate intellectual property protections and to halt forced technology transfers. Meanwhile, China is reluctant to commit to agricultural purchases and is seeking a rollback of existing tariffs. As has been the case, markets continue to rally on hopes of a deal while ignoring the fact a deal seems to be no closer than it was a year ago. We can only help but wonder what farmers will do that took President Trump's advice when he tweeted "Start thinking about getting bigger tractors!"
Will others follow? After striking a deal just over two years ago with Amazon to sell a limited product assortment on their platform, Nike has decided it wants out. Nike announced it will no longer sell footwear, apparel and accessories to directly to Amazon. Nike, which recently hired eBay's former CEO to be its next CEO, appears to be preparing an e-commerce push of its own. "As part of Nike’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, we have made the decision to complete our current pilot with Amazon Retail," a Nike spokeswoman said.
It's nothing more than a "bug." A number of Facebook users have discovered their iPhone's camera was turned on while browsing the social network's app. The earliest incident was documented on Twitter back on November 2. Facebook's VP of integrity, Guy Rosen, initially replied to one user's tweet "This sounds like a bug." Rosen later tweeted "We've confirmed that we didn't upload anything to FB due to this bug and that the camera didn’t capture anything since it was in preview mode. We’ve submitted a fixed version to the App Store which is already rolling out."
Another letter from upset Silicon Valley employees. Facebook employees wrote a letter titled "Facebook Empowers Racism Against Its Employees of Color," just as the company holds its annual "Black@" conference where CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to address employees. The letter, written anonymously because employees fear retribution, provides examples of what they have experienced at Facebook. "There may be an effort to recruit diverse talent. But not much has changed to ensure that people are recognized, empowered, and overall treated equitably by their managers and peers," the letter read.
Silicon Valley is turning into Wall Street. Google is the latest tech company to venture into consumer banking, as it is reportedly preparing to offer checking accounts next year. The project, code-named Cache, will see Citigroup and a Stanford University credit union run accounts that customers can access through Google Pay. "Our approach is going to be to partner deeply with banks and the financial system," Caesar Sengupta, a Google VP who oversees the company’s payment initiatives, said. "It may be the slightly longer path, but it’s more sustainable."