LAKELAND, Fla. (May 15, 2008) â€“ Florida Citrus Mutual Executive VP/CEO Michael W. Sparks Thursday urged President Bush to sign the Farm Bill into law after both the U.S. House and Senate passed the measure by veto-proof majorities.
â€œPresident Bush should sign this bill which for the first time ever recognizes the importance of fruit and vegetables,â€ Sparks said. â€œThis historic bill is good for Florida citrus growers.â€
The bill, which passed in the House by a 318-106 vote and the Senate by an 81-15 vote, authorizes almost $1.5 billion in mandatory spending for programs that benefit fruit and vegetable growers. Florida is the 2nd largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. and by far the largest producer of citrus, a $9.3 billion industry that creates 76,000 jobs.
â€œCitrus greening, a new disease that kills citrus trees, is spreading throughout our industry,â€ Sparks said. â€œAs a result, the number one funding priority for Florida citrus is pest and disease research. The current Farm Bill addresses the need for investment in research.
â€œOn behalf of the 8,000 grower members of Florida Citrus Mutual, I would like to thank Congressmen Tim Mahoney, Adam Putnam and Allen Boyd in the House and Senators Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson in the Senate for their hard work on this bill and their support of Florida citrus.â€
Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the stateâ€™s largest citrus growers organization. For more information, please visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.