Florida’s citrus growers are struggling with low harvest numbers and the high cost of inputs, and they’re looking for help wherever they can get it. The latest assistance came in the form of a lower citrus tax. The lowering of the citrus tax was the latest in a line of programs and enactments passed to help citrus growers weather the storm of citrus greening.

Citrus Tax History

Citrus greening was first detected in South Florida in 2005, when typical harvests easily surpassed 200 million boxes. Because of citrus greening, the 2015-16 citrus harvest saw only 81.5 million boxes. The latest citrus tax for 2015 stood at 23 cents per box of processed oranges and 19 cents for each box of grapefruit.

Then, in early 2016, a dozen large Florida citrus growers penned a letter to the FCC calling for a drastic reduction in the citrus tax and for cutting the Department of Citrus budget to the bone. The letter cited low harvest numbers and the high input costs to fight citrus greening as their reasoning behind the letter. The budget was reduced shortly thereafter.

FCC Chairman Ellis Hunt and Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) Executive Director Shannon Shepp discussed both in an interview with CitrusIndustry.net. Hunt maintained that the FCC “promised that we were going to take a very in-depth analysis and study it (the grower proposal), make sure that we could achieve those results while keeping the Department of Citrus intact and functioning … We did not want to make an immediate knee-jerk reaction; we wanted to thoroughly assess that we could get there and still serve the growers as is our mission.”

New Citrus Tax

October 25th, the FCC passed the new citrus tax, which will be 7 cents for both processed oranges and fresh grapefruit. Additional per-box grower taxes will be 7 cents for all specialty fruit and 5 cents for fresh oranges.

It is the exact rate the growers requested in their letter. Shepp maintained that, “We understand what the challenges are for growers. We understand that the cost of producing citrus has gone up. We wanted to make sure that we could make as high an impact as we could, and we think part of that was creating a tax reduction.”

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.