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Orange Juice Futures Fall 1% amid Federal Aid Uncertainty

December 21, 2017 at 16:55 by Andrew Moran

Orange juice futures tumbled as much as 1% on Thursday as investors remain uncertain over the federal government and its potential financial assistance for citrus growers. Florida orange farmers have taken a beating since Hurricane Irma, and they are still reeling from the devastation to crops.

March orange juice futures fell $0.013, or 0.94%, to $1.3705 per pound at 15:37 GMT on Thursday on the US ICE Futures exchange. Orange juice prices are trading at their lowest levels since the beginning of September. Year-to-date, orange juice has crashed more than 26%, and it may linger into next year.

Although Florida citrus farmers are optimistic that Washington will come to their rescue, there is still a lot of uncertainty over the passage of the latest $81 billion disaster relief bill. The House of Representatives added $2.6 billion worth of aid for hurricane-related agriculture relief, which includes $761 million for the Sunshine State’s orange industry.

The House bill has received some pushback from both parties as it moves to the Senate. Republican leaders are trying to pass the spending measure before Congress breaks for Christmas.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is optimistic that relief will come for orange growers soon. He said in a statement:

Florida’s farmers, ranchers and growers suffered unprecedented damage from Hurricane Irma, and today’s announcement of proposed emergency funding for Florida agriculture is the first bit of good news we’ve heard in months.

Representative Tom Rooney has been advocating for federal financial assistance since September.

Florida’s farmers, ranchers, and growers are tough, and I know if we get them the relief they need, they will replant, regrow, and prove resilient. I am grateful that so many of my colleagues signed on in support of this letter and I am confident that we will rebuild our state’s agriculture industry.

This comes as the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rocked the orange market after it changed its forecast for this year’s citrus crop, projecting production will decline by another 8%. This means that the state’s orange output will be a meager 46 million boxes, down by approximately 20 million from last year’s harvest.

Other commodities are mixed towards the end of the trading week. March wheat futures rose $0.03, or 0.71%, to $4.265 per bushel. March sugar futures jumped $0.0021, or 1.44%, to 14.78 cents a pound. March coffee futures slipped $0.01, or 0.81%, to $1.221 per pound.

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