At Least $4.1 Million Lost In South Florida Fruit Fly Outbreak

Closeup of Oriental fruit fly causing damage
Photo by Scott Bauer

In a new report, UF/IFAS economists estimate the Oriental fruit fly outbreak last year caused at least $4.1 million in direct crop damages in Miami-Dade County, but the damage could have been far worse.

UF/IFAS researchers and the chief economist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), compiled three scenarios for crop losses: optimistic, mid-range, and pessimistic. The optimistic scenario reports direct crop damage at $4.1 million. The pessimistic one shows that the loss could have been $23 million.

Edward “Gilly” Evans, a UF/IFAS Professor of Food and Resource Economics, said the $4.1 million loss he and his colleagues estimated was a conservative one and does not reflect the full economic impact on the economy due to the multiplier effect. In addition to these costs, approximately $1.5 million was spent by state and local agencies in a joint effort to control the outbreak.

The direct crop losses came as a result of the quarantine protocol and a potential non-planting response by growers in Miami-Dade County.

After nearly a six-month battle, FDACS and USDA reported a successful eradication of the Oriental fruit fly in Miami-Dade County.

“Although there was certainly a cost to growers in the regulated area, all of Florida agriculture would have been negatively impacted if the pest had expanded its reach,” said Amanda Hodges, Associate Extension Scientist in the UF/IFAS Entomology Department. “Other states and countries would have stopped outgoing shipments of Florida’s agricultural products. At the very least, this pest would have cost millions if not billions of dollars if it had made a home here.”

In addition to the crop loss, the new UF/IFAS report says the fruit fly outbreak caused between $10.7 million and $58.5 million in overall economic losses.

Altogether, Miami-Dade County’s agricultural activities generate $1.6 billion in revenues each year.

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