In May, Florida citrus growers voted on whether to continue a research order that allows them to impose a tax on their production to fund scientific studies. The referendum passed with 76% voting in favor of the self-assessment.
After the vote, all eyes turned to the June Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) board of directors meeting, which was held during the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference in Bonita Springs last week. The CRDF makes recommendations on the tax rate to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), which administers the research order.
By law, the assessment can be no more than 3 cents per box on citrus production. For several years, the rate has been 3 cents to fund research aimed at fighting HLB. However, during the June meeting, CRDF board members voted in favor to recommend lowering the tax to 2 cents per box.
Growers attending the meeting expressed opinions in favor of keeping the rate at 3 cents, while others argued for a lower rate.
“Ultimately, the board decided to recommend a rate of 2 cents to FDACS,” said Rick Dantzler, chief operating officer of CRDF. “While a case could be made for 3 cents based purely on the budget numbers, the board thought it was important to acknowledge how tough it is for growers right now. While a penny is not a lot of money in the big scheme of things, it’s still a 33% reduction to CRDF, but we can handle it. And it was the right thing to do.”
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