Citrus Agency Gets Boost from Bigger Crop
With projections that more oranges and grapefruits will be produced in Florida over the next nine months, the state Department of Citrus got a slightly bigger budget Wednesday.
With a relatively optimistic forecast for the growing season, the Florida Citrus Commission approved a staff request to increase the department’s budget for the recently started fiscal year by nearly 4 percent.
The change came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected this month that citrus growers in Florida will produce 75 percent more oranges, grapefruit and other specialty crops in the current 2018-2019 season compared to the Hurricane Irma-ravaged harvest in the 2017-2018 season.
The increase to the budget — up $1.23 million from the 017-2018 year — came without altering a 7-cent-per-box tax growers pay on juice oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and tangelos. The rate also stayed at 5 cents per box of fresh oranges. The box tax helps fund the Bartow-based Department of Citrus.
In 2016, the agency reduced the box tax to the current rates from 23 cents on processed oranges and 19 cents on grapefruit. That reduction was in response to the industry’s continued decline, due primarily to deadly citrus greening disease.
The agency funding also includes $5.65