Florida Citrus Commission Sets Budget and Grower Assessments

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Shannon Shepp

Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) Executive Director Shannon Shepp summarizes the Florida Citrus Commission’s actions regarding the FDOC’s 2017-18 budget and grower assessments that help fund programs.

The budget is $17.83 million. “That’s about a $4.5 million reduction from last year’s budget,” Shepp says. The reduction comes primarily because of a low crop forecast of 54 million boxes of oranges, brought on mainly by Hurricane Irma dropping fruit from trees in September. The majority of the department’s budget comes from a per-box assessment on fruit.

The budget leaves about $555,000 in reserves, which would be collected from about 8 million boxes of fruit, in case monthly crop forecasts project further crop reductions, which many expect will happen. “We definitely have bolstered reserves this year based on the uncertainty of what that crop forecast looks like,” Shepp says. We may have to dip into some fund balance even further … We also have the option of asking our state partners (the Legislature and governor) for a little bit more help on the general revenue side if we need that.”

The assessments on grower fruit will be 7 cents per box, except for fresh oranges, which will be 5 cents per box. That’s the same level as last season.

The FDOC will continue to focus on “millennial moms” in its public relations and marketing programs. “We are reaching out a little bit and pulling in the millennial dads and some other consumer groups because we’ve gotten pretty far along with millennial moms, but that’s our major focus,” Shepp says.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large