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BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Citrus Commission approved a 2018-19 budget for the Florida Department of Citrus Wednesday, maintaining grower tax rates at the same level as the previous season.

The Department’s total budget is $18.3 million, reflecting a budget increase of $1.2 million, or 7 percent, over 2017-18. Much of the increase is due to $1 million in additional general revenue funding from the State of Florida for public relations and marketing of Florida Citrus.

The budget is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate released earlier this month of 79 million boxes of oranges and 6.7 million boxes of grapefruit.  The numbers are a sharp increase from the previous season, devastated by Hurricane Irma, when production dropped to 44.95 million boxes of oranges and 3.88 million boxes of grapefruit. 

Commissioners voted to maintain tax assessment rates at $.07 per box of processed oranges, processed grapefruit, fresh grapefruit and all specialty citrus. Fresh oranges will be assessed at $.05 per box.

The budget also includes $3.6 million in Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program funds from the USDA to be used on international programs, $5.65 million general revenue funding from the State of Florida and $1.8 million of FDOC fund balance.

“While this is a year of modest recovery for our growers, this budget balances the long-term sustainability of the Department’s consumer engagement and research programs with assessments that still allow growers to hyper-focus on tree health and further recovery,” said Shannon Shepp, executive director of the FDOC.

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 more than 45,000 people and provides an annual economic impact of $8.6 billion to the state. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.