Florida Department of Citrus presents preliminary 2016/17 budget

The proposed budget reflects a 32 percent decrease from the current year

BARTOW, Fla. – The Florida Department of Citrus presented a preliminary budget for 2016-17 Wednesday on an estimate of 58.1 million boxes of oranges and 8.765 million boxes of grapefruit next season.

The Department’s total proposed budget is $20.6 million with an overall budget reduction of $9.7 million or 32 percent over the previous year.

The proposed budget includes salary reductions of $1.4 million, general operations reductions of $1.2 million and program budget reductions of $8.5 million.

The budget is based on a tax assessment rate projection of $.10 per box of processed oranges, all grapefruit and processed specialty as well as $.05 per box of fresh oranges and $.07 per box of fresh specialty. The projected carryover needed from the current season to support this budget is $924,500.

The budget also includes $7.65 million in general revenue funds from the State of Florida. Those will be used primarily in marketing and public relations while $650,000 goes to 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.

Commissioners met in April at a special budget workshop to outline core functions of each business unit and discuss which programs could be eliminated or reduced.

In Economic and Market Research, reductions are proposed to the amount of data collected from outside agencies. However, the Florida Department of Citrus would continue to provide all reports currently issued by staff.

For domestic public relations and marketing, which focuses mostly on orange juice, proposed changes include the elimination of food service programs, a reduction in retail marketing and an increased emphasis on issues management in all public relations programs.

Among the proposed changes in international marketing, which focuses mostly on fresh grapefruit, are the elimination of public relations programs in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Netherlands as well as a reduction in programs in Japan. International programs will remain in place and be slightly increased for orange juice in South Korea and Canada.

Many programs currently part of the Scientific Research Department would stay in place due to prior fund commitments and a desire to continue health and wellness research, including two scientific research studies currently being conducted on cognition and the cardiovascular benefits of orange juice.

Commissioners Wednesday requested a research study concentrating on the health benefits of orange juice as a rehydration drink be added to the department’s budget. The study, which was originally approved for funding in the current year, was canceled due to a change in crop size. That study is projected to cost about $86,000.

The administrative department pared down its overall budget, including legal, accounting, human resources and IT.

Commissioners will vote on the preliminary budget during the June 14 FCC meeting. The final budget and tax rates will not be voted on until 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.