Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget has added funds supporting the state’s citrus industry.
After an early November announcement of $21 million for citrus in the governor’s proposed 2018-19 budget, the amount is now up to more than $22 million, according to a news release.
Unchanged from the original budget proposal are $10 million for research on solutions to citrus greening (huanglongbing/HLB) and $7 million for the Citrus Health Response Program, which aids tree replanting efforts.
The updated proposal includes $5 million, up from $4 million, for consumer marketing programs at the Florida Department of Citrus.
New to the proposal is $650,000 for variety research, designed to keep Florida competitive by developing new varieties suited to Florida growing conditions and in line with current consumer preferences.
“Gov. Scott’s Securing Florida’s Future budget recognizes the deep legacy of Florida’s citrus industry, and its great contributions to our economy over the years,” Florida Department of Citrus executive director Shannon Shepp said in the release. “We couldn’t be more grateful for his commitment to see Florida citrus through our many challenges, and continue our pledge to be present and accountable in all budget actions.”
The latest proposal comes days after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s citrus crop estimate dropped to 50 million boxes of oranges for Florida, down from 54 million boxes a month ago. The current USDA estimate would be 27% below last season, and Florida’s citrus industry expects the actual harvest volumes to be even lower.