University of Florida

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture addresses U.S. agriculture needs during UF stop

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, IFAS

Kathleen Merrigan

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Opportunities for jobs in agriculture abound, USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan told University of Florida students and faculty Thursday.

“We actually have a gap between the number of qualified graduates and the kind of jobs that we need to fill in American agriculture,” Merrigan said. “And the need, from the projections I’ve seen, is only going to become greater.”

Merrigan’s speech was part of a Florida tour that includes promoting the USDA initiative Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, which seeks to reconnect agricultural producers and consumers.

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Citrus greening costs $3.63 billion in lost revenues and 6,611 jobs, new UF study shows

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Economics, Environment, Invasive Species, Pests

Since 2006, the bacterial disease citrus greening has cost Florida’s economy an estimated $3.63 billion in lost revenues and 6,611 jobs by reducing orange juice production, according to a new study from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The study is the first complete assessment of greening’s economic impact on Florida, said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. He called the study an important step in the fight against greening, because it quantifies damages and could show legislators and funding agencies why the invasive disease is one of the state’s biggest challenges.

“This study shows plainly just how imperative it is that we find a cure for citrus greening,” Payne said. “We have dedicated a huge amount of IFAS resources toward that end, and we are very appreciative of the significant support our research is receiving from the citrus industry. Growers are the people most obviously impacted, but the study demonstrates that many other Floridians are hurt as well—when fewer oranges are harvested, there are fewer dollars circulating in our state’s economy.”

First detected in Florida in 2005, greening causes citrus trees to drop fruit prematurely and eventually kills the trees. The disease is caused by a bacterium, and was first described in 1919 in China. The bacterium is transmitted by an invasive insect, the Asian citrus psyllid.

The study compares actual harvests of oranges used to make juice with projected harvests that would have taken place if greening had never struck Florida groves; it covers the growing seasons from 2006-2007 through 2010-2011. During those five years, the disease caused substantial crop losses, said citrus economist Tom Spreen, a professor with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department.

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UF/IFAS officials unveil new Straughn Extension Professional Development Center

Topic(s): 4-H, Announcements, Extension, Uncategorized

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida officials opened a new building Thursday that will be a second home for extension faculty gathering in Gainesville for professional development and training activities.


About 200 people gathered midday to dedicate the Straughn Extension Professional Development Center, at 2142 Shealy Drive. The center, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is adjacent to the animal sciences and veterinary medicine facilities.


The building is named for Alto Straughn and his wife, Patrecia, who donated funds that helped support its construction. Straughn is a well-known blueberry farmer and a former state extension specialist. (more …)

UF, Buckeye dedicate ethanol production facility in Perry

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Biofuels, Crops, Economics, Environment, Green Living, IFAS, New Technology, Research


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Many building dedications feature a ribbon-cutting; this one included a front-end loader ceremoniously dumping a scoopful of pulverized sugarcane stalks.

It was an appropriate way to mark yesterday’s official launch of the Stan Mayfield Biorefinery Pilot Plant in Perry, a cooperative venture between the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Buckeye Technologies Inc.

As 200 guests looked on, State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, stepped up to the big machine and pulled a lever, delivering the first official shipment of feedstock to the biorefinery, which will develop methods for producing fuel ethanol and other compounds from inedible plant material.

The biorefinery is named for Mayfield’s late husband, a member of the state House of Representatives from 2000 until his death in 2008. A UF graduate, Mayfield was a strong advocate of renewable fuels, environmental protection and economic growth.

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