Growers Press Legislators for Hurricane Relief

Tacy Callies hurricane, Legislative

Florida citrus industry members recently met with U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin to discuss priorities.

Hurricane recovery assistance was top of mind when citrus growers met with U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin April 11 in Highlands County.

“The primary topic of conversation during the roundtable was encouraging Sen. Scott and Congressman Franklin to do everything in their power to get the Block Grant Assistance Act passed through Congress as quickly as possible,” said Ray Royce, executive director of Highlands County Citrus Growers Association (HCCGA). Royce said passage of the act would “allow the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to utilize the funding that was appropriated last December as part of the omnibus legislation to quickly put in place a block grant program to get hurricane recovery funding” to growers.  

“There was also discussion about the need for additional staffing in FSA (Farm Service Agency) offices and that existing USDA FSA programs needed to be more grower friendly and/or directed to helping fund practices growers can actually utilize,” Royce added. “Also discussed was the removal of the AGI (adjusted gross income) cap for many FSA programs.”

Scott and Franklin met with growers from Highlands, Hardee, Hendry and Glades counties to discuss pressing issues facing the citrus industry.

“The loss and devastation caused by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole has forever changed communities across our state and the lives of so many Florida families and businesses,” Scott said. “Folks in the Sunshine State are still picking up the pieces.”

 “Our citrus growers know we are here to listen and help,” said Franklin. “Today’s roundtable event serves as an important reminder of the incredible devastation our growers suffered over the past year. I will continue to push my House colleagues to move my Block Grant Assistance Act, which Sen. Scott is leading in his chamber. It will pave the way for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bring relief to growers in the near term. I thank Sen. Scott for putting this event together as we fight to help our critical citrus industry.”

About the Author

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large