WITH THE USDA’S most recent Florida orange crop estimate at a troubling 69 million, there’s no doubt that Florida citrus growers face some tough questions. As a result of citrus greening (or HLB), the industry’s harvest has reduced more than 50 percent over the past decade. Any way you slice it, that’s a big cut, and for some growers, that cut goes so deep that it’s time to ask whether resetting trees is worth the investment.
The silver lining in all of this is that there are answers out there that could present as viable business solutions. One comes in the form of proposed legislation. Recently, U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan (R-16) put forth a bill that would offer a provision enabling growers to immediately expense the cost of new citrus tree plantings. Being appropriately called the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act (or H.R. 3957), this legislation could help growers who are in it for the long haul — that is, until a long-term solution for citrus greening can be found.
The other solution comes for those growers who are looking to diversify their citrus grove holdings. Designed to help Florida farmers who are wrestling with citrus greening and don’t qualify for loans with typical ag lenders, AgAmerica Lending presents the Citrus Grove Conversion Program. The program allows us to work with growers to finance converting their groves to irrigated farmland or pasture, essentially creating a new business plan. Some of the program’s benefits include interest-only payments for up to 10 years, cash for conversion, and no prepayment penalties.
While most lenders aren’t interested in the struggles — or future — of citrus growers, we are. We can help you adapt and change your business model to succeed. For more information about the program, go to AgAmerica.com/grove-conversion.
This column is sponsored by AgAmerica Lending.
column by DONALD HARDEN
BIO: Donald Harden, the Relationship Manager for AgAmerica Lending, grew up in the cattle and citrus business, managing a family ranch of several thousand cattle and horses. He has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate business, and more than 20 years specializing in agricultural sales. Don has owned and operated farm and ranch supply stores, machinery auction companies, and farms. He has served as a director and on the board of the Cattlemen’s Association, as the manufacturer’s representative for ag equipment companies, and as a beef cattle specialist for a national feed company. Don has traveled across the U.S. as a sales rep. conducting seminars and fostering long-lasting business relationships. Don enjoys his work at AgAmerica, as he has never met a stranger. For more information, visit www.AgAmerica.com.