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Officials downgrade Florida's citrus forecast as more funding is demanded for fighting disease

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ORLANDO, Florida — Agricultural officials are downgrading Florida's orange crop forecast for this season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Monday that Florida would produce 103 million boxes of oranges in the current growing season.

That's a decrease of 5 million boxes from the estimate released last month.

The most recent forecast is smaller than the 104 million boxes produced last year, which was the lowest on record.

It also represents a total decline of 60 percent since the peak of citrus production at 254 million boxes in the 1997-1998 growing season.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the forecast shows more needs to be done to fight the citrus greening disease, which has decimated Florida's citrus industry.

He says he's asking for $18 million this year to fight the disease.

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