Growers who govern the Florida Department of Citrus are considering cutting grower box taxes for the upcoming season’s budget.
In a May 18 meeting, members of the Florida Citrus Commission, which oversees the department, requested the agency consider a 2-cent-a-box reduction.
If approved, the cut, included in the department’s 2011-12 proposed budget, could see per-box taxes dropping from 36 cents to 34 cents for fresh grapefruit, 16 cents to 14 cents for specialty fruit such as tangerines, and 7 cents to 5 cents for fresh oranges, said Karen Mathis, the agency’s public relations director.
Mathis said the proposed budget would likely include money for both disease research and marketing investments, but it’s unknown how those programs would be cut.
Mathis said the proposed cut follows the state legislature approving $2 million to fund the Florida Citrus Research and Development Foundation Inc. in Lake Alfred, which manages the industry’s citrus greening research. That bill awaits approval from Gov. Rick Scott.
Because of the newness of the issue, Andrew Meadows, director of communications for Florida Citrus Mutual, Lakeland, said the state’s largest citrus growers group hasn’t taken a position on the proposal. He said the issue would be vetted throughout the industry before being finalized.
Mathis said commissioners plan to vote on a preliminary operating budget June 15 for the new fiscal year which starts in July. The commission won’t approve a final budget, however, until the fall, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first season crop forecast in October.
The department is operating under a $60.1 million 2010-11 budget compared to $58.4 million in 2009-10. One proposal has the 2011-12 budget at $54.3 million.