Ag Across America: What’s Happening With the Citrus and Timber Industries?

The Citrus Industry:

American citrus is still experiencing the harmful effects of Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening. The bacterial disease causes trees to yield green and oddly shaped fruit before eventually dying altogether. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the 2014-15 Florida orange crop will yield 96.4 million boxes of fruit, roughly 100 million less boxes than in 2013-2014. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam blames citrus greening.

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Citrus Industry Receives New Funds to Fight Citrus Greening!

The citrus industry is a huge money-generating, job-creating industry.

The Florida citrus industry alone generates a $9 billion annual economic impact and employs nearly 76,000 people. So, huge is an understatement.

Given its impact, it’s no wonder why the industry is in a state of panic over the on-going citrus greening epidemic – a devastating citrus disease that continues to expand without the promise of a cure. This disease significantly threatens the industry and the thousands of jobs that rely on it. What’s more, it also has the potential to impact consumers, as it could hike up fruit and juice prices if proper action isn’t taken.

As this fast-growing disease continues to wreak havoc on the industry at large, and potentially consumers, funding is becoming more and more essential, as it supports research, management, and monitoring strategies, among other things.

That’s why the recent announcement of funds specifically intended to combat the disease comes as a major relief to the industry. Over $1.5 million in funding is now set aside to better Florida, Texas, and California’s ability to manage populations of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) — the pest that is responsible for infecting citrus trees — on a greater scale. Urban locations where citrus trees grow in yards and organic orchards will also be covered by this special funding.

To further aid the citrus greening battle, three new members were recently appointed to serve on the citrus disease subcommittee, which advises the Secretary of Agriculture on citrus research, extension, and development priorities; consults and collaborates with the USDA; and offers recommendations for citrus disease research and extension strategies.

All good, promising news for the industry!

Need additional funding to support your citrus operation? Bankers South is proud to be the only ag lending company in the Southeast authorized to offer AgAmerica Conventional Real Estate Loans. Interest rates for these loans often beat all other agriculture loan programs and cover all facets of farming, including citrus operations. When it’s time to plant your next row crop or expand your citrus groves, these ag loans are an excellent choice.

 


Florida Celebrates New Farm Bill

If you haven’t heard the good news, the farm bill received its final seal of approval courtesy of President Obama last week. It’s about time!

Its new-found status of completion is cause to celebrate.

Agribusinesses in Southwest Florida are very pleased, especially citrus growers.

Citrus growers waited nervously and impatiently for Obama to sign off on the proposed $125 million worth of emergency funds (dispersed over the next five years) dedicated to extensive citrus greening (HLB) research. Fortunately, Obama signed in favor.

These research funds are expected to not only benefit Florida, but also California, Texas, Arizona, and all citrus growing operations in the United States.

Over the past five years, Florida citrus growers have put approximately $70 million into citrus greening studies. Yet, despite heavy research initiatives, HLB continues to infect and destruct, damaging groves, killing off trees, and limiting harvests. Clearly, the solutions are slim. Hopefully, with these emergency funds in place, real solutions will surface.

Separate from the $125 million allocated for citrus greening research, the farm bill also assigns $275 million over the next five years to “specialty crop” research and initiatives (up from $230 million in the 2008 farm bill). Since citrus is categorized as a “speciality crop,” this presents additional good news (and funds!) for the industry.

Other nationwide farm bill programs are also expected to benefit Florida’s agribusinesses. New agriculture and food research initiatives, organic agriculture research and education efforts, and beginning farmers and ranchers programs are bound to aid Florida in fortifying its agriculture.

Need help developing your citrus operation? Call on us here Bankers South – a Florida-based ag lending company – for farmland financing support. Our AgAmerica Lending Program boasts unparalleled farm loan products perfect for re-planting citrus trees, expanding your groves, etc. Please contact us for further information about our AgAmerica farm loans and citrus loans!


Farm Bill News: Citrus Industry Scores!

Good news for Florida’s citrus industry and the agricultural community as a whole!

The 5-year farm bill debacle is finito. Well, almost.

As of February 4th, it’s finally out of Congress’ hands.

Now, all that’s left is President Obama’s seal of approval, which should come in no time!

Along with Obama’s stamp of approval, will follow a plethora of benefits to Florida’s citrus industry.

Anyone involved in the citrus industry is aware that Florida’s signature citrus crops have been hurting due to the ever-expanding HLB “citrus greening” epidemic.

To combat this invasive beast, heavy research and collaboration is paramount and urgent.

The farm bill offers the industry hope with its $125 million worth of mandatory funding for citrus pest and disease research initiatives. $25 million of this funding will be disbursed each year for the next five years to contribute to dedicated research efforts. Any unused funds will stick around, getting passed on to the following year.

Finally, the industry has access to a great organization with sufficient funding in place to support research outside of grower assessments. Thanks to a strong collective of citrus supporters, congressmen, and senators, as well as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, this critical federal program has reached fruition.

Need help developing your citrus operation? Call on us here Bankers South – a Florida-based ag lending company – for farmland financing support. Our AgAmerica Lending Program boasts unparalleled ag loan products perfect for re-planting citrus trees, expanding your groves, etc. Please contact us for further information about our AgAmerica ag loans and citrus loans!


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