Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) reported that Congress was expected to receive a supplemental funding request from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in early August.
“We worked with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to craft a letter urging (OMB) Director Shalanda Young to include relief for Florida’s farmers in their (OMB) request,” FCM Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer Matt Joyner said.
“Unfortunately, Hurricanes Ian and Nicole left Florida citrus farmers on the brink of collapse,” Wasserman Shultz’ Aug. 9 letter stated. “More than 90 percent of all Florida citrus production was impacted by hurricanes in 2022. This resulted in $675 million in damages, including lost revenue and damages to crops and property.
“Final estimates for the 2022–2023 season from USDA showed just 15.85 million boxes of oranges, 1.81 million boxes of grapefruit and 480,000 boxes of tangerines and tangelos produced in Florida. This represents a 60% drop from the previous season, and the lowest yields for the Sunshine State since 1936. These devastating losses have already forced many Florida growers out of business.
“Our Florida farmers need federal support so that they can continue to feed and support American families across the country. We respectfully request that the losses to the entire Florida agriculture industry be included as you develop the supplemental funding package — especially the commodities that did not receive supplemental funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 supplemental funding bill. This assistance is critical, and time is of the essence.”
Joyner said Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Scott Franklin, both from Florida, expect the funding package to move through the House just after Labor Day.
“In addition, we coordinated a call with U.S. Sen. Rick Scott for him to hear directly from Florida’s citrus growers about the challenges from Hurricane Ian,” Joyner said. “He expressed frustration with the administration for inaction to provide hurricane relief to Florida growers, and he committed to pressure USDA to release the funds immediately.”
Source: Florida Citrus Mutual
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