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BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. – The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary 2015-16 budget for the Florida Department of Citrus  based on an estimate of 85 million boxes of oranges and 11.8 million boxes of grapefruit.

Presented Wednesday at a meeting held before the start of the Florida Citrus Industry Annual Convention in Bonita Springs, the Department’s total preliminary budget is $32.8 million with $9.5 million dedicated to public relations, $6.8 million toward retail marketing and $6.5 million for international marketing.

The Department is funded by a tax paid by Florida growers on each box of citrus produced.

The preliminary budget returns the assessment rate of processed oranges to 2013-14 levels, at $.23 per box.  Grapefruit rates are set at $.19 per box. Fresh specialty assessment rates remain unchanged from the current season while processed specialty rates decrease from $.16 to $.07 per box.

“We look forward to the year ahead and the opportunity it brings to leverage current assets and create new ways to promote Florida Citrus while allocating grower dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible. We are going to make a difference,” said Doug Ackerman, executive director of the FDOC.

The preliminary budget does not include supplemental general revenue appropriations awaiting approval by the State Legislature. Currently included in that funding is $2.5 million for consumer marketing, of which $1 million is recurring; $500,000 for market research, $500,000 recurring for new varieties development and $250,000 to provide Florida Orange and Grapefruit Juice at state welcome centers.

Commissioners will vote on a final budget and tax rates in October, after the initial USDA citrus crop forecast.

About the Florida Citrus Commission

The Florida Citrus Commission is the governing board of the Florida Department of Citrus, an executive agency of the Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. The commission is a nine-member board appointed by the governor to represent citrus growers, processors and packers. FDOC 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 and provides an annual economic impact of nearly $10.7 billion to the state. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.