By Jaci Schreckengost
Ben Albritton, Florida House Representative from District 56, says it is encouraging to see the positivity in the citrus community, especially in challenging times.
Due to the rise of huanglongbing (HLB), known as citrus greening disease, Florida citrus growers are facing the challenges of reduced production and health of their crops.
There have been some changes in regards to agriculture in the Florida House since the transition from Speaker Steve Crisafulli to Speaker Richard Corcoran in 2016, Albritton says.
Overall, in the 2017–2018 budget from Florida Governor Rick Scott, citrus research is seeing a reduction in funding. Citrus research will receive $3,478,327 less in the 2017–2018 budget than it did in the 2016–2017 budget, according to the “Fighting for Florida’s Future” website, where the budget is presented.
According to Albritton, the agriculture industry did not bring in as much money and funding under Speaker Corcoran as it did under Speaker Crisafulli, but the priorities of the industry have stayed in place.
The $8 million for research on citrus greening was prioritized and kept in place in the budget, Albritton says. Along with this, $4 million was budgeted for Florida Department of Citrus support due to the reduction of citrus boxes produced in Florida. $650,000 was also in the budget for the development of new varieties.
Albritton says keeping these priorities in the budget is a win for the citrus industry.
“It’s an encouragement, you know, the emotional, psychological strength that the Florida citrus community has,” Albritton says.
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