Matt Joyner with Florida Citrus Mutual recently listed citrus industry priorities going into the Florida legislative session, and outcomes of those priorities in the $93.2 billion budget adopted by the state’s Legislature.
Joyner, director of governmental affairs for the grower organization, noted that Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet approved the budget. “His primary focus is directing Florida’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. And given the early session, he has plenty of time to address the budget and other issues prior to the June 30 end of the state’s fiscal year,” Joyner stated. “We are optimistic that the priorities of the Florida citrus industry will remain intact.”
Here are the budget priorities and their outcomes as listed by Joyner:
$8 million for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation to continue critical basic research into citrus greening and begin applied research through large-scale grower field trials – fully funded at $8 million with $3 million directed to the Citrus Research and Field Trials program.
$2.5 million for the Citrus Inspection Trust Fund to supplement grower assessments, citrus inspection, citrus forecasting and budwood protection – funded at $1 million
$7.4 million for the Citrus Health Response Program – fully funded
$5 million for Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) marketing programs – fully funded
$650,000 for the New Varieties Development Program – fully funded
$25 million for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services BMP (best management practices) Cost Share Dollars (funds the Citrus Grove Renovation Program) – funded at $4 million
Joyner also reported on other bills that Mutual worked on, including a Senate bill (SB 1276) related to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) and introduced by Sen. Ben Albritton. The bill establishes the Friends of Florida Citrus within the FDOC, enabling producers and other entities to contribute additional funds, above the mandated box tax, to the marketing efforts of the FDOC. It also creates the Friends of Florida Citrus Advisory Council to advise and provide recommendations to the Florida Citrus Commission regarding the use of any funds received for the Friends of Florida Citrus Program.
Joyner’s report was published in the Indian River Citrus League’s River Ramblings newsletter.