More than 50 attended a November 1 workshop in Lakeland to learn about incentives to induce citrus tree replanting. Replanting is needed to replace trees lost to HLB and other problems. Kayla Nickerson of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) talks about a relatively new incentive – her agency’s Citrus Grove Renovation/Re-establishment Support Program.
Nickerson says, “We’re able to cost-share on water-quality improvement projects and water-saving projects … This year we’ve set aside $5.5 million to assist growers” who replant or plant new groves. “And we’re covering irrigation components associated with that. We cover 100 percent of any engineering and design services associated with the project and 75 percent of all materials and labor for irrigation system improvement.”
Payments are limited to $250,000 per grower, and planting projects must have microsprinkler or drip irrigation. Participating growers must have been producing citrus since at least 2008. Projects must be a minimum of 10 acres and be completed by June 30, 2017.
Growers have so far filed requests that would consume about $1 million of the FDACS allocation. “So we still have about $4.5 million available to allocate,” Nickerson says. “If anyone has any property that they intend to plant in citrus, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to help … Please apply.” E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
One grower at the meeting said it would be difficult to begin and complete planting projects by next summer’s deadline. “It needs to be June of 2018,” he said.
Other speakers discussed the FDACS program to remove abandoned groves and the federal government’s Tree Assistance Program (TAP). TAP pays a portion of the cost of removing trees badly damaged by HLB and of new tree purchases and resetting costs for growers replacing the HLB-affected trees. Growers at the workshop — the last in a series conducted by Florida Citrus Mutual — had many questions for the presenters.
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