Florida ranked ninth in the U.S. in agricultural receipts for the year 2000, and ranked first or second in receipts for 12 of the nation's top 25 agricultural commodities. Ten of these twelve leading agricultural commodities were fresh fruits or vegetables, and combined, they represented over 45 percent of the state's agricultural receipts in 2000. Despite Florida's preeminent standing as a producer of fresh fruits and vegetables, it's future leadership in this industry is less clear. In real terms, Florida's annual agricultural receipts have declined from $7.41 billion in 1992, to $6.42 billion in 2001. In 2000, receipts fell by over $521 million, the sharpest one-year drop since 1990. The overall trend in fresh vegetable receipts for the State has been downward since 1992 and receipts for fresh tomatoes, the state's most important fresh vegetable, fell by almost half over the same period. With nearly 90 percent of its receipts from fresh vegetables coming from out-of-state sales, it is estimated that the vegetable industry generated a total economic output impact of $3.14 billion for the state in 2001. Changes in agricultural policy or market conditions can and will continue to have a significant impact on Florida's economy. Given that the bulk of many fresh vegetables are produced within a handful of counties within the state, even minor changes in policy or market prices can result in dramatic consequences for local producers and the economies of individual counties.


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