Legislators Show Support of Citrus Industry Through Funding

In the past 20 years, the Florida citrus industry has been devastated by greening disease, intense hurricanes, and a global pandemic that widely affected nearly every industry in the state. Through it all, Florida citrus growers demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination. Despite growers’ best efforts, production has plummeted, with estimates for the current season at approximately 17.8 million boxes, compared to the all-time high of 242 million boxes in 2004. 

Fortunately, the Florida legislature believes in our growers. Included in upcoming legislation is an appropriation of $125 million over five years into citrus research, especially research targeted towards overcoming greening.

These are not the only funds that will be directed to Florida citrus. A total of $47 million in the 2024-2025 state budget are allocated as follows: 

  • $18 million for the Citrus Research and Field Trial (CRAFT) Program and Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) to research citrus treatments and therapies. 
  • $9 million for Florida Department of Citrus marketing to promote the state’s citrus products among consumers and influencers. 
  • $8.3 million for the Citrus Health Response Program, administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), to help researchers develop new varieties, increase citrus production, and advance technologies to treat and prevent citrus greening.  
  • $4 million for the Citrus Inspection Trust Fund to supplement grower assessments for citrus inspection. 
  • $2.7 million for Pest Management through FDACS, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Citrus, to suppress the Asian Citrus Psyllid that causes citrus greening. 
  • $2 million for the Citrus Recovery Program, administered by the Florida Department of Citrus, to advance technologies that produce tolerance or resistance to citrus greening and produce trees that show tolerance or resistance to citrus greening. 
  • $2 million for the Citrus Budwood Facility through FDACS to expand the propagation of citrus greening-tolerant or resistant citrus sinensis or citrus sinensis-like budwood trees and seedlings, and for operations and maintenance of the greenhouse.
  • $1 million for the Citrus Nursery Automation Cost Share, which provides 80% cost-share funding to citrus tree nurseries for purchase of new equipment that will reduce the cost of trees to growers.

These allocations will be a welcome respite for Florida growers who continue to champion the industry even in the face of adversity. Senate President-Designate Ben Albritton, himself a citrus grower, championed the legislation that would lead to this legislation.

As of the writing of this column, the 2024-2025 budget has not yet been approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and therefore these numbers are subject to change.

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