Mike Sparks, executive vice president/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, provides the following update on hurricane disaster relief legislation:
This was another busy week in Washington. The industry, led by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, spent two days working with the Florida delegation and Congressional leaders in an attempt to find a path forward for disaster relief legislation. There is more good news than bad news to report, but ultimately this legislation won’t get done until January.
First, as you know, Congress passed and President Trump will sign a large tax bill. That legislation includes Congressman Buchanan’s citrus tax provision. This will help our industry recover and was supported by every member of the Florida delegation. This legislation allows the grower to expense the cost of planting a new grove in the first year, which previously required 10 years of depreciation.
The disaster recover supplemental that the White House released just before Thanksgiving did NOT include financial assistance for Florida growers and was of little or no use to Florida agriculture. Thanks to Congressman Tom Rooney, the House rewrote the legislation and the final product is a very good one for Florida citrus. After Congress passed the tax bill this week, it turned its focus to closing out the year. Thanks to the efforts of Congressman Tom Rooney and Congressman Dennis Ross, a current disaster bill that included financial assistance for citrus growers was passed out of the House yesterday. Unfortunately, the Senate wasn’t able to take it up before Congress left for the year. Our two senators understand the urgency and are committed to getting this done.
Overall, the news is good, however we are certainly disappointed that we did not get the legislative package approved this week. Our leaders understand that we need this assistance. Congress is set to return January 3 and we will renew our efforts to get disaster recovery passed early in the new year.
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