Citrus Industry Priorities for the Next Farm Bill

Robert Guenther

Crop insurance fixes and the continuation of research funding are top priorities for the citrus industry when it comes to developing the new farm bill. Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy with the United Fresh Produce Association, recently discussed these issues with AgNet Media Founder and President Gary Cooper. They spoke during the recent Crop Insurance Industry Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Following Hurricane Irma, Gunther said it looked like crop insurance had mixed results for Florida growers, partly due to the types of policies the growers had. Some growers had a basic plan, which certainly did not cover the extensive amount of damage some growers faced after Irma. Guenther hopes that legislators will address this issue in the next farm bill. “How can we get some lessons learned from that environment to potentially utilize the farm bill in helping change or helping enhance crop insurance protection when disaster-type situations occur?” he asked.

The continuation of research dollars in the next farm bill is also critical to the citrus industry’s survival. The $25 million included in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative expires at the end of the 2014 farm bill, and Guenther would like to see that money be restored in the 2018 farm bill. “The challenge now is, does that program continue, or can we find money outside the Specialty Crop Research Initiative to continue that same program?” he asked.

According to Guenther, the initiative has seen success in the investment of research money and there is progress being made in the citrus greening arena. Research funding to fight against citrus greening is not only critical for Florida now, since the disease has been detected in other states as well. “When you look at the spread of HLB in California in particular, that’s a very scary situation,” he said.

Guenther encourages growers across the United States to become engaged in the legislative process to advocate for the citrus industry’s needs. “We need to have the best resources in the government to protect that industry, and also make sure it stays alive,” he concluded.

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Abbey Taylor