Florida Blueberry Industry Focused on Competitive Edge
The Florida Blueberry industry comprises more than 500 growers and more than 7,000 acres of commercially grown Southern Highbush Blueberries. We have experienced growth and stability in the recent past; however, the 2018 Florida blueberry season presented many challenges and obstacles for our growers.
From Hurricane Irma, to gall midge infestation, to pollination problems, many farms experienced production losses last season. Additionally, it is no secret that over the last several years, Mexico has significantly increased its blueberry acreage, closing the short window that once made Florida the only place fresh blueberries were available in the world at the end of March and early April because of our state’s special climate and unique growing conditions.
The Florida Blueberry Growers Association (FBGA) is dedicated to advocating for our growers. We have been in constant communication with our congressional delegates regarding the Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program disaster funds and NAFTA to make sure that our growers were well represented.
We have consistently voiced our concern regarding the competitive disadvantage that our growers are facing due to the large volumes of fruit from Mexico that have collapsed our market window, joining with other commodity and industry associations from the southeast.
Going forward, FBGA recognizes the challenges of production pressures, and that weather, bugs and blight will not go away. To remain competitive, we feel we need to give our growers the tools to reduce inputs and costs while maintaining or increasing production. We have worked with UF/IFAS to try to find ways to achieve this and pass it along to the growers.
Florida has a reputation for quality fresh blueberries, and much of that can be attributed to the breeding program at the University of Florida. The rest is attributed to the quality growers in this state and their willingness to share information throughout the industry.
It is FBGA’s goal to continue to advocate for our industry and to collaborate with others to provide our members the tools they need to succeed in business.