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BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Department of Citrus issued the following statement Friday from Executive Director Shannon Shepp on the passage of disaster recovery relief as part of a larger spending bill by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives:

“Today’s passage of disaster recovery funding immediately changes the outlook for so many. From growers who have been watching their bank accounts run into the red since September to the small-town communities reliant upon the citrus industry, a collective sigh of relief can be heard.”

“None of this would be possible without the tireless efforts of Gov. Rick Scott, congressmen Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross, senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. We thank these gentlemen for their unwavering support of Florida’s signature industry and all they have done since the moment Hurricane Irma passed through our state.”

“Growers can now reinvest in their groves and look forward to new seasons ahead knowing that help is, indeed, on the way.”

Hurricane Irma had a devastating impact on the Florida Citrus industry. Florida growers reported 30 to 70 percent crop loss after Hurricane Irma’s landfall on September 10, with the southwest region of the state receiving the most damage. The hurricane uprooted trees and left many groves sitting in standing water for up to three weeks, potentially damaging the root systems and impacting future seasons’ growth.

In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that Florida Citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages due to Hurricane Irma.

Prior to Hurricane Irma, Florida was expected to produce about 75 million boxes of oranges this season, according to private estimates. This season, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates Florida will produce 45 million boxes of oranges, a 35 percent decrease over last season, and 4.65 million boxes of grapefruit, a 40 percent decrease since last year.

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 45,000 people, provides an annual economic impact of $8.6 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.