The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary 2018–19 budget of $17.645 million dollars for the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). FDOC Executive Director Shannon Shepp discusses the budget and the department’s mission.
“We have a net increase in the budget of about $409,000” compared to the current 2017–18 budget, Shepp says. She notes that about half of the funding will come from Florida grower assessments, which are unchanged. The assessments are 7 cents for all fruit except fresh oranges, which are 5 cents per box.
“Our biggest focus at the Department of Citrus is to make sure that consumers are aware of the health and nutrition benefits” of Florida citrus products, Shepp says. She adds that the department tries to educate consumers on ways to fit Florida citrus into their lives.
Shepp says the department will continue to target so-called “millennial moms” through social media. “They (millennial moms) are looking for things to do, like recipes,” she says. “They are looking for advice. They’re looking for bloggers. This is just part of their lives today, so that’s how we communicate with them best.”
The budget was based on citrus commissioners’ estimates of 60 million boxes of oranges, 5 million boxes of grapefruit and .88 million boxes of specialty fruit grown in the 2018–19 season. A final budget will be set when the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes its first Florida citrus crop forecast of the season in October.
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