Satellite pictures may eye Brazil citrus crop

Satellite pictures may eye Brazil citrus crop

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State and federal agriculture officials are planning to use satellites to monitor Brazil’s citrus crop — Florida’s main competition in the citrus industry.

Their aim is to better compete against Brazil in the European and Asian markets, thus boosting revenue and profits for growers in Florida’s $9-billion-a-year citrus industry.

They’re reluctant to call it “spying.”

“We don’t like that word,” said Rick Mueller, head of the Spatial Analysis Research Section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Officials prefer to call it “research” — with satellites that shoot high-resolution images from 400 miles above Earth.