Let’s face it: It’s tough to be in the Florida citrus industry these days.
As if the battle with HLB wasn’t enough, the past 12 months have given us two freeze events, another devastating hurricane, and rising fuel and fertilizer costs. Add to that, the USDA citrus forecast in mid-January, which projected 18 million boxes of Florida Oranges — 2 million fewer than December’s forecast — and a projected 31.8 percent down overall from last season.
Growers are facing higher inflation and interest rates, compounding the strain on financial resources. Fighting the battle on all of these fronts has become too much for some growers. However, many continue to push forward with the task of sustaining the citrus industry.
Given the current strain on financial resources, there has never been a more critical time to have access to the many cost share programs that are available. These funds are not a handout; they are a critical investment in rebuilding an industry that provides a substantial economic return to our state.
So why don’t people take advantage?
One drawback we hear is the frustration and confusion of navigating the many different programs. I know many growers who do not attempt to engage with these vital resources because of the red tape.
But don’t fear; help is on the way.
The Tree Defender team has been working with two companies that serve as one-stop shops to help streamline and obtain the resources that are readily available.
Matt Railey with Agrilliance (cell:  287-1137; office:  956-6712) and Kimberly Lott with Crop Disaster Recovery LLC, ( 659-1335; www.cropdisasterrecovery.com) both bring high levels of expertise and an intricate knowledge of the issues growers face every day.
Both Matt and Kimberly will not only help secure the recently-approved NRCS cost share funding for Tree Defender IPCs, they can also help with programs for:
- irrigation efficiency improvement,
- tree replanting programs
- nutrient runoff reduction,
- HLB prevention
- herbicide/pesticide reduction practices, and
- the carbon credit markets
At Tree Defender, we believe Agrilliance and Crop Disaster Recovery can play a crucial role in securing these critical resources, allowing the Florida growers to do what they do best: rebuilding and sustaining the Florida citrus industry.