By Mike Sparks, Florida Citrus Mutual executive vice president/chief executive officer
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) sometime today. The measure to fund the government includes $2.36 billion for Florida agriculture relief. Please immediately contact your U.S. Representative in the House and strongly urge him or her to vote “yes” on the bill. See the attached contact information. Do not hesitate to contact House members in other states if you have a relationship with them.
The time is now to push this bill through!
I would suggest you include any or all of the following points:
- Name, location and quick history of your business
- For the past decade Florida citrus has been fighting HLB, a bacterial disease that kills trees quickly. The disease and the vector are not native to the United States. Citrus production has gone down more than 70 percent while the cost to grow citrus has nearly tripled. Consequently, for the last 10 years, groves have not been sufficiently profitable. To continue to produce citrus, growers have utilized all reserves, there are no retained earnings, and loans have been maxed out.
- Hurricane Irma ruined hope that the 2017–18 season would mark a modest rebound. The hurricane brought 110 mph winds and excessive rain, which resulted in an estimated 65 percent crop loss.
- Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam pegged a preliminary citrus damage estimate at $760 million. The number will grow significantly as long-term effects slowly emerge. It will take years to truly understand the destruction of Hurricane Irma.
- We need a relief/rebuild package or a way of life for local communities and a huge economic engine for the state of Florida will disappear.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Please make the call today.
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