Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM), Florida’s largest citrus grower organization, thanks members of the U.S. House and Senate for approving a Florida agriculture disaster package early Friday that will send billions in relief to growers hit hard by Hurricane Irma.
The package — passed as part of the federal budget deal — provides a total of $3.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $2.36 billion of which will be used to make direct payments to Florida producers who’ve suffered hurricane-related crop losses last year. Citrus’ share is expected to be $760 million. The bill now moves to the President.
“We cannot thank the Florida delegation enough for its bipartisan support of this measure to get citrus growers back on their feet after a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Irma,” said Michael W. Sparks, FCM executive vice president/chief operating officer. “Growers and the communities and families that rely on citrus are thankful to say the least. Livelihoods and a way of life are going to be saved because of this funding.
“Senators Nelson and Rubio were absolutely instrumental in the success of the relief package. On the House side, Congressman Rooney, Ross and Diaz-Balart did yeoman’s work for us in addition to almost the entire Florida delegation. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Governor Rick Scott were with us every step of the way and we thank them as well.”
On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma moved through the center of the state hitting Florida’s major citrus-producing regions with up to 120 mph winds. The hurricane blew fruit off the trees and caused widespread tree damage. An FCM survey of growers conducted post-Irma pegged total fruit loss at more than 65 percent, with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the southwest part of the state.
The Florida citrus industry creates an $8.6 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 46,000 people and covering about 450,000 acres.
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