Last November, a bill was proposed by U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan (R-16) that would provide Florida citrus growers with more incentive to plant citrus trees. If passed, the legislation will potentially provide aid to our industry, which is in dire need of it in light of citrus greening (or HLB).
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? AgAmerica 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.
Citrus, Florida’s signature crop, has always faced disastrous conditions from freezes to canker. But no disaster has been as devastating to citrus owners as citrus “greening.”
Citrus “greening”, also called huanglongbing or HLB, was detected in 2005 and has since wreaked havoc on the citrus industry in Florida, ruining citrus trees and hurting the state’s economy.
While there is a great deal of research and support going on to tackle the issue of citrus greening, there has not yet surfaced effective measures to stop this crisis. The only solution has been to destroy the trees and clear the groves, thus destroying the disease.
For many citrus owners, this is a less than desirable solution; however, there are options for the land after citrus growing has been abandoned.
For example, bio fuel farming has recently been suggested as an option for South Florida land as an alternative to growing more citrus and sugar cane, though this is in its beginning stages. Others are replanting with the Florida variety of peaches or more recently, macadamia nut trees. The main question that has to be posed is whether or not citrus land with continue to be classified as agricultural land or if it will be converted to non-agricultural uses. Many citrus growers fear that by destroying their citrus groves they will no longer have classified agricultural land and all the tax perks that go along with that classification. This is not the case.
In order to stick to classified agricultural land, citrus owners must contact an FDACS inspector, who examines the property, craft a destruction report and issue an Abandoned Grove Compliance Agreement. Citrus owners must then bring the compliance agreement to the county property appraiser to be issued a greenbelt tax rate for at least two years. Local property appraisers may have further conditions, so inquire with them before beginning the process of clearing the citrus groves.
It’s important to be aware of your options. Please contact us for further assistance on citrus land options or for any questions regarding financing your agricultural land. info@AgAmerica.com