From a press release – Florida Citrus Mutual announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to purchase approximately $26 million of orange juice to be donated to child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs.
In September, Mutual asked the USDA to purchase a significant amount of OJ to help reduce inventories and boost grower returns. In its request, Mutual told the USDA of the rising production costs, lower prices and mammoth inventories now facing Florida citrus growers. The USDA commitment equates to about 7.3 million gallons.
“In addition to helping one of the country’s great agriculture industries, this significant USDA purchase will provide a healthy beverage for students, mothers and their children across the United States,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “We would like to thank Secretary Schafer.”
“U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam was instrumental in this process and we would like to thank him for his leadership and support.”
The USDA purchases high-quality food products each year for a variety of uses including the national school lunch program, the school breakfast program, the summer food service program, the nutrition program for the elderly and the emergency food assistance program.
With today’s announcement, the USDA will survey potential recipients to determine how much product will be accepted. Then it will seek the lowest overall cost through a public bid process.
The Florida citrus industry creates a $9.3 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering more than 576,000 acres. Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.