The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary 2019-20 budget for the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) based on an estimate of 71.40 million boxes of oranges and 4.51 million boxes of grapefruit.
Presented Wednesday, the department’s total preliminary budget is $14.82 million with an overall budget decrease of about $4 million over the previous year, which is largely due to a reduction in general revenue funds.
The budget is based on a tax assessment rate projection of $.07 per box of processed oranges, all grapefruit and all specialty fruit, and $.05 for fresh oranges. The preliminary budget continues an accelerated spend down of excess fund balance, which began two seasons ago. The projected use of fund balance to support this budget is $2.73 million.
The budget includes $1.58 million general revenue funding from the state of Florida, which reflects a $4.07 million decrease over the previous season. It also includes $3.67 million in Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be used on international programs, as well as $275,000 in Agricultural Trade Promotion funds to be used on fresh orange programs in Canada and Florida orange juice programs in South Korea.
The budget reflects expenditure reductions in marketing and public relations ($3.5 million) and administration ($22,000) as well as an increase in scientific research ($160,000).
Commissioners set tax rates in October, after the initial USDA citrus crop forecast. Several factors will be used to determine the appropriate final tax rate for the season, including crop size, import projections, carryover and fund balance. They will then approve a final budget for 2019-20.
By approving a preliminary budget, commissioners authorize FDOC staff to begin work immediately on programs for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. Grower assessments will not be collected until after the rate is set in October.
The Florida Citrus Commission is holding a marketing and budget workshop in Bartow on July 17 to further discuss options for this season and beyond. All are invited to attend this public meeting.