Citrus Officials Preparing To Cut Box Taxes, Some Growers Want More

May 18, 2016

Citrus greening (Huanglongbing) is reeking havoc on Florida's citrus industry.
Credit A. Barra via Wikimedia commons

The Florida Citrus Commission is under pressure to cut its budget drastically in the face of citrus greening.  The grower-supported agency is feeling the pinch of declining harvests.

The Florida Citrus Commission regulates and promotes the state’s citrus industry with money from per-box taxes.  But growers hit hard by citrus greening are calling for cuts to the current assessments.  Deputy Executive Director Christine Marion says the agency is planning on tightening its belt—the preliminary budget cuts box taxes by about $18 million.

“That’s a 67 percent reduction in budget,” Marion explains. “Then of course we have the $7.65 million in general revenue for which we’re all very grateful, and it’s a net reduction of $9.676 million which is 32 percent.”

State lawmakers appropriated the $7 plus million to prop up the industry in the last legislative session.  The preliminary budget proposal cuts assessments on orange juice, grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruits.  But the rate for fresh oranges is staying put.  Some growers are pushing for even further cuts—arguing the rates for oranges and grapefruits should be just seven cents a box.