Florida Citrus Mutual on Wednesday applauded the House Ways and Means Committee for passing a measure that would provide growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the ailing Florida citrus industry.
Committee member U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is the primary sponsor of the bill called The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead of the standard 14-year depreciation period under the current IRS rules. The tweak to the IRS code is designed to increase slumping production. It would be available for 10 years. To view H.R. 3957 go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3957
“The strong committee vote is a clear message: we must do all we can to protect American jobs,” Buchanan said. “We are one step closer to protecting the livelihoods of the 62,000 hardworking Floridians who form the backbone of the Sunshine State’s iconic citrus industry.”
Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual added; “The approval by the Ways and Means Committee is a huge first step in getting the bill passed by both the House and the Senate. We offer a sincere thank you to Congressman Buchanan and Chairman Brady as well as the other sponsors for their support of this important bill. It is truly a bipartisan effort and reflects the fact that our elected officials understand citrus’ vital economic role.”
“By some estimates our industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get our production back to where it was before HLB. This legislation will help spur the desperately needed plantings. It’s a game changer.”
The entire Florida delegation is co-sponsoring the bill.
In the Senate, original sponsor U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) was joined by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) earlier this year as a champion of the bill. The Senate is expected to consider the legislation later this year.
Florida growers are now battling citrus greening, or HLB, a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and has reduced production more than 50 percent over the past decade.
The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.7 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.