Florida citrus growers will pay less in taxes for the recently started growing season than in past years, as the industry struggles against deadly citrus-greening disease. The Florida Citrus Commission voted Wednesday to set the tax on each 90-pound box of processed oranges, grapefruit and specialty fruits at 7 cents. The rate is what growers requested earlier this year.
The Florida Department of Citrus is funded through the so-called “box tax.” During the past year, the rate was 23 cents per box of processed oranges and 19 cents for each box of grapefruit. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that Florida growers will harvest enough oranges to fill 70 million 90-pound boxes of oranges in the coming months. The outlook is down from 81.6 million boxes in the 2015-2016 season. Grapefruit are expected to fill another 9.6 million boxes.
Florida, which accounted for 49 percent of total U.S. citrus production in the past season, has been struggling since 2009 against citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease.