Nikki Fried cheers $550K in grants to promote citrus amid tariff war

USDA officials say funding will combat unwarranted retaliation against U.S. farmers.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried celebrated $550,000 in federal grants for promoting citrus export to markets worldwide.

“The coming season looks positive, and these dollars could give growers an added competitive advantage and help fuel Florida citrus success,” Fried said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week announced $200 million in new grants through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program. That includes $550,000 that for the Florida Department of Citrus.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the grants seek to level an unfair playing field for US. Farmers. It’s part of a larger $12-billion trade mitigation package announced last year by President Donald Trump.

The effort combats “unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” federal officials said.

“At USDA, we are always looking to expand existing markets or open new ones, so we are proud to make good on the third leg of the President’s promise to America’s farmers,” Perdue said.

“This infusion will help us develop other markets and move us away from being dependent on one large customer for our agricultural products. This is seed money, leveraged by hundreds of millions of dollars from the private sector, that will help to increase our agricultural exports.”

For Florida growers, this offers a new chance to compete against agriculture producers in South American nations with lower labor costs.

“We’re thrilled the USDA has provided this opportunity for Florida’s citrus growers to market their crops and increase our state’s agricultural exports by opening new markets,” Fried said.

The timing feels appropriate looking at the level of produce being loaded into Florida crates as well. USDA statistics estimate Florida produced 77 million boxes of oranges in December, a 71 percent increase over the prior year.

“During a year when our crop yield is projected to increase, the time is right to highlight one of the things our state is known best for, nutritious and delicious Florida oranges,” said Michael W. Sparks, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.

But agriculture leaders in the state say the promotions also come as farmers deal with the consequence of international tariffs.

“Florida producers are encouraged by the USDA’s actions to combat retaliatory tariffs,” said John Walt Boatright, national affairs coordinator for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

“For our state’s affected commodities such as cotton and citrus, we hope these funds will help establish and advance export markets for quality Florida product in the long term.”

Fried noted in addition to funding at the Citrus Department, the grants issued to 56 other organizations nationwide offered chances for partnership. Florida producers may draw from dollars awarded to national groups or in conjunction with other regional agencies and organizations.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn