University of Florida

Study finds UF has $8.76 billion economic impact on Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, IFAS, Research

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s economic importance in Florida has continued to grow in recent years, thanks to an increase in research grants and rising demand for health care services, according to a new study by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The study found that the university’s total economic impact on the state for the 2009-2010 fiscal year was $8.76 billion, and total employment impact was more than 100,000 jobs. UF’s economic impact — as large as the state’s spectator sports industry that includes professional sports teams and NASCAR — represents the ripple effect of the university’s statewide presence with research and education centers throughout Florida, UF physician practices and Shands HealthCare hospitals and programs, and extension offices in all 67 counties.

The economic impact from health care makes up a large part of the total and is actually larger than UF operations, said Alan Hodges, an extension scientist in the food and resource economics department and the study’s lead author. Operations includes money spent on personnel, utilities and supplies.

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UF food safety experts help give FDA personnel insight to Florida produce

Topic(s): Aquaculture, Citrus, Conservation, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Environment, Invasive Species, Pests

Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — To help federal officials understand the produce industries they regulate, University of Florida food safety experts recently took part in a cross-state tour that provided a behind-the-scenes look at growers’ operations and food safety efforts.

Five faculty members gave presentations highlighting their work to enhance the safety and quality of fruit and vegetable crops. The March 8-10 tour brought a delegation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies to 15 farms and packinghouses.

Organizers hope the tour leaves a lasting impression, one that may prompt attendees to see regulatory issues from a broader perspective, said Martha Roberts, special assistant to the dean for research with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“It’s critical that the people regulating agricultural crops have the knowledge and experience of seeing how the crops are grown, harvested, packed, repacked, shipped and sold,” Roberts said.

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UF researcher creates plan to protect U.S. banana supply

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, IFAS, RECs

Randy Ploetz

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The banana consumers know today could disappear from U.S. store shelves because of a tropical disease, just as its predecessor did more than 50 years ago, and a University of Florida researcher warns that awareness is needed to stop history from repeating itself.

Tropical race four of Panama disease, or TR4, wreaks havoc on banana plants by traveling up their trunk and killing their canopy. It appeared in the 1990s and destroyed banana plantations in Southeast Asia and Australia but has yet to arrive in the Western Hemisphere. There is no treatment for the disease.

In response to the TR4 threat, UF researcher Randy Ploetz has developed a six-part action plan that he is sharing at international banana conferences. Ploetz, a plant pathologist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, was the first to identify TR4 in 1990. He is based at UF’s Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead.

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UF Bee College will spotlight native pollinators March 11-12

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, IFAS


Cutline at bottom. Click here for high-resolution image.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With honeybee populations imperiled by the mysterious condition called colony collapse disorder, Florida residents should appreciate native bees for their role in the state’s environment and economy, say University of Florida researchers who will make presentations on the insects at this week’s Bee College.

Held March 11-12 at UF’s Whitney Laboratory in Marineland, the annual event includes sessions on native bees and enhancing habitats for them, said Jamie Ellis, an assistant professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Now in its fourth year, Bee College is the state’s most extensive bee education event.

Many Florida crops depend on bees for pollination, including some citrus, beans, melons, squash, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries, and native species perform some of the work. Nationwide, native bees pollinate crops worth an estimated $3 billion each year.

Native bees also pollinate ornamentals and indigenous plants. Now, with honeybee populations down, native pollinators need support from humans.

“There are ways to help by putting in habitat to attract native bees,” Ellis said.

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