|Mike Sparks, executive vice president/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, reports that his association is working with state and federal officials on a financial assistance program to support losses to the Florida citrus crop from Hurricane Irma. “We have been in constant communication with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), as well as the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC), the Florida Agriculture Coalition and the regional citrus groups since the hurricane,” he says.
Sparks says Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson as well as Congressman Dennis Ross visited citrus groves throughout the state last week to survey the damage. “Growers from Polk and Highlands counties, the Indian River area and Southwest Florida were able to share their firsthand knowledge with the senators and congressman,” he says. “Rubio, Nelson and Ross each pledged their strong support to help us rebuild after this disaster.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is hosting a grove tour in the hardest hit citrus area with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today.
“The recovery of Florida citrus remains a team effort, and Mutual has pledged to work closely with FDACS, the FDOC and regional citrus groups to help recover,” says Sparks. “In addition to a financial assistance program (crop loss), Mutual is pursuing various planting incentive programs at the state and federal level, which we recognize as our highest priority to get citrus trees back in the ground. A key component to the proposed legislative ask(s), is specific damage information from growers. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to capture this data firsthand.”
Growers are asked to take a few minutes to answer the following four questions to the best of their knowledge.
1) What county(s) and how many acres do you manage?
2) Estimate total fruit loss as a percentage.
3) Estimate the acute wind damage to trees as a percentage.
4) Estimate acres in standing water as total acres and as a percentage.
Send answers to email@example.com by September 21.
“Please forward this e-mail to every grower you know. They may not be on our distribution list and we need as much data as possible,” says Sparks. “We hope that you can favor us with a response by Thursday, September 21. However, we will incorporate subsequent responses.”
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