Newly unloaded oranges await inspection and processing _Florida citrus / Photo of JD Vivian

Newly unloaded oranges await inspection and processing. The citrus industry employs more than 45,000 and has an annual economic impact of $8.6 billion to the state. / Photos by J.D. Vivian, taken at U.S. Sugar Corp.’s Southern Gardens Citrus plant, north of Clewiston

By the Florida Department of Citrus

The Florida Citrus Commission approved a preliminary 2017-18 budget for the Florida Department of Citrus, based on an estimate of 61.65 million boxes of oranges and 7.02 million boxes of grapefruit.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida orange production for 2016-17 has increased slightly, while grapefruit production has held steady. The June 2017 report projects the 2016-17 orange crop to increase by 500,000 boxes — to 68.5 million boxes. The grapefruit crop held steady at 7.8 million boxes.

Florida citrus growers rise to the challenges

Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, says of the USDA report, “This has been a particularly tough season for Florida citrus growers, with greening and other traditional crop challenges. An increase in 500,000 boxes could be easily dismissed, but in this context, it is a celebration and shows that these growers are still fighting with everything they’ve got.”

The state Department of Citrus’ total preliminary budget for 2017-18 is $17.5 million, with an overall budget reduction of $4.93 million, or 22 percent, over the previous year. The preliminary budget includes … $4.65 million in general revenue funding from the state.

The budget is based on a tax-assessment rate projection of no more than $.07 per box of processed oranges and under $.07 for all other varieties.

The budget also includes $3.9 million in Foreign Agricultural Service Market Access Program funds from the USDA to be used on international programs. Budget reductions reflect decreases in scientific research and in economic and market research, as well as in global marketing programs.

Commissioners will set tax rates in October, after the initial USDA citrus crop forecast. Several factors will be used to determine the appropriate final tax rate for the season, including crop size and import projections.

The 2017-18 fiscal year begins on July 1.

About the Florida Citrus Commission

The Florida Citrus Commission is the governing board of the Florida Department of Citrus, an agency of state 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, visit