BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Citrus Commission approved a 2016-17 budget for the Florida Department of Citrus Wednesday that includes a one-year tax abatement to bring processed orange and grapefruit as well as fresh grapefruit assessment rates to $.07 per box.
The budget is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate released earlier this month of 70 million boxes of oranges and 9.6 million boxes of grapefruit. Both are higher numbers than the FDOC based its preliminary budget on in June.
This brings the Department’s total budget for 2016-17 to $22.6 million, an increase of $1.9 million from the preliminary budget. While tax assessments are lower than initially projected, funds gained from the higher crop size were aimed toward public relations programs, scientific research and economic and market research.
The increase in crop size also allowed the FDOC to implement a one-year tax abatement for processed orange and grapefruit as well as fresh grapefruit bringing the final assessment rates from $.10 per box to $.07. Assessment rates for processed and fresh specialty remain at $.07 per box while fresh oranges remain at $.05 per box.
While the Department has historically been funded almost solely by a tax paid by Florida Citrus growers on each box of citrus produced, the industry also received general revenue funds from the State of Florida this season. This includes $7.65 million to be used primarily in marketing and public relations as well as $650,000 toward New Varieties research. The international marketing budget also includes $4.3 million in Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Market Access Program funds from the United States Department of Agriculture.
“We know what is going on in the groves and are glad to be able to provide tax relief to growers fighting for the industry we love,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the FDOC. “We will continue to tell the story of Florida Citrus, and why it’s part of a healthy eating platform. Our mission shift is more about the how we do what we do than what.”
About the Florida Department of Citrus
The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs nearly 62,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of nearly $10.7 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida’s schools, roads and health care services. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.