The Florida legislative session began Jan. 9 in Tallahassee. Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) has several goals for the 2018 session to aid an industry already dealing with devastating challenges.
Andrew Meadows, FCM’s director of communications, says a big item on FCM’s radar is Hurricane Irma. The industry is continuing to suffer from the storm that occurred in September 2017. So, that has been an issue on the minds of many citrus associations and industry leaders. “That (Hurricane Irma) has sort of painted everything we do both in Washington and Tallahassee,” Meadows says.
However, Hurricane Irma is only one topic on FCM’s list this session. Meadows says FCM also has its sights set on research funding. Growers are still battling citrus greening, so the critical need for research remains relevant. Meadows says that historically, the legislature has been supportive of the industry’s research efforts, and he hopes that will continue in 2018. “Even in these challenging times, the legislature has been supportive, and that’s comforting to us,” he says.
Meadows adds that FCM will also be looking toward new programs or incentives to help growers begin the replanting process. “We’ve got to get 30 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to sustain the infrastructure of Florida citrus,” he explains.
Meadows says he is grateful for the members in the Florida legislature who have been key advocates for the Florida citrus industry. Some of those who Meadows mentioned were Rep. Ben Albritton, Sen. Denise Grimsley, legislators from Polk County and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “These are all people that understand what the Florida citrus industry is facing right now,” Meadows concludes.
Hear Meadows’ comments:
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