Florida Citrus Commission approves tax cut for growers

BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Citrus Commission voted Wednesday to cut taxes collected on citrus boxes in the 2014-15 season, providing welcome relief to the state’s growers.

The one-year tax cut is expected to have an impact on Florida Department of Citrus revenue of $4.6 million and can be achieved, according to Executive Director Doug Ackerman, without cutting existing FDOC programs.

“Conservative budgeting and strategic investments have allowed us to build our fund balance giving us the ability to ease the burden of growers without compromising our commitment to promoting Florida Citrus.”

Growers will pay $.03 less for the processed orange category and $.07 less for fresh and processed grapefruit as well as fresh and processed specialty categories during the 2014-15 season.

The cut will reduce the FDOC’s reserve fund balance, but it will not affect the overall operating budget of the department.

FCC Chairman Marty McKenna made the motion to move forward with the cut with a reminder that the assessment rate will be reviewed again at the start of next year’s season and underscoring the Commission’s consensus intention that the abatement would impact only the current year.

“I’m proud that – thanks to the conservative efforts of our Commission and staff – we are able to give dollars back to the growers,” McKenna said. “It is our hope that this relief will allow growers to continue to invest in the future of Florida Citrus.”

Commissioner Michael Haycock, who chairs the Commission’s Administrative and Budget committee, spoke in support of McKenna’s motion.

“We have to do everything we can to give growers the best chance they can of keeping the crop where it is,” Haycock said. “I think giving back this money, which is the growers’ money to begin with, and then starting fresh next year with all the budget challenges we have, is the right thing to do.”

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 76,000 people and provides an annual economic impact close to $9 billion to the state. For more information about the Florida Department of Citrus, please visit FloridaCitrus.org.