Mike Sparks, executive vice president/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), distributed the following update on Florida citrus appropriations and legislation:
Dear FCM Board and Members:
I have some very positive news to share. The items/proposals/appropriations I’ve highlighted below have been approved by the Legislature and Governor Scott. This news came about quickly after our e-mail this morning asking you to contact the governor.
All of our major citrus initiatives made it through the veto process! The final appropriations alone total more than $31.1 million dollars. I offer a sincere thank you to Governor Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senate President Gardiner and Speaker Crisafulli as well as Reps. Albritton, Corcoran, Gaetz and Raburn and Senators Galvano, Grimsley, Hays, Hutson, Lee and Stargel.
It’s nice to know we have a group of legislators and leaders at the state level who understand the challenges we face as well as our importance to Florida. Tell them thanks when you see them.
Here are the highlights:
Citrus Related Appropriations
• Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) – $8 million.
• Citrus Crop Decline Supplemental Funding – $2 million. These dollars will supplement revenue lost from the citrus inspection trust fund due to HLB.
• Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) – $7,693,329
– Supplement for CHMA and MAC – $4,500,000
• Citrus Budwood Facility – $510,000
• Florida Southern Greenhouse – $750,000
Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC)
• New Varieties Program. – $650,000 (R)
• Florida Department of Citrus marketing activities – $7 million ($5 million R)
In addition to the appropriations, there are a couple of general policy measures that were approved:
• A sales tax exemption for fresh fruit and vegetable packinghouses on equipment purchased, repairs to existing equipment, and labor. The House bill has passed and the Senate has included this provision in their tax cut package.
• Special Assessments on Agriculture Land – Prohibits counties and municipalities from levying or collecting special assessments on agriculture lands for fire protection services. This exemption also applies to pole barns but does not include residential dwellings or nonresidential farm buildings. Both the House and Senate bills have passed their respective committees of reference and are ready for floor votes.
• A proposal has been approved in both the House and the Senate that provides groves taken out of production due to disease to retain their agriculture assessment for a period of five years at a de minimis value of no more than $50 per acre.
Thank you to the FCM Board, growers and FDOC staff and commissioners who took part in communicating the state of the industry in Tallahassee. Your hard work paid off.