Citrus industry in peril following Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — While the supply chain impact from Hurricane Ian will not be assessed for some time, it’s bound to be significant, as Florida fruit is used in the production of almost all of the nation’s orange juice.

“The citrus industry certainly took a hit,” Arlan Suderman, who serves chief commodities economist for StoneX, said to NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday.

Of Florida’s total citrus production, “79% … is concentrated in five counties and four counties took a direct hit by this hurricane,” Suderman continued.

While the hurricane’s human toll is the current priority, economists fear a long-term economic impact, as citrus farming supports many Florida families and millions of families across the country support them as consumers.

“Orange juice — specifically coming from the Florida region — we’re going to start seeing those higher prices in the weeks ahead as supplies start running lower at the grocery store,” Suderman said.

The supply of fresh produce will be impacted, as well.

“Some of the things like watermelons, strawberries, cabbage, some of the things Florida produces after it’s too cold everywhere else,” said Dr. Roger Cryan, chief economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The nation’s farmers are also tracking damage assessments since Florida is a key supplier of phosphate for fertilizer production. Inflation already has prices at record highs, influencing crop decisions for farmers everywhere.

“The operation down there in Florida is a traditional source of phosphate fertilizers; we’ll have to see how long that plant is shut down and how much stored commodity is lost,” Cryan said.

According to economists, other industries seeing price and supply impacts could include gas, lumber, textiles and electrical parts.

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