The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) announced that the state’s citrus growers reauthorized the Florida citrus research order in a statutorily required referendum conducted by the department. The results of the ballots returned yielded 76% “yes” votes representing 69% of total citrus acres.
The Florida Citrus Research Order has a six-year cycle and is subject to renewal upon request by the industry and a vote of support by those in the industry. By voting “yes,” growers have preserved their ability to assess themselves on an annual basis for the purpose of helping fund citrus research.
Current law allows an assessment of no more than three pennies per box to fund, and/or help leverage outside funding for, citrus research.
The Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) serves as the advisory council of record for the research order. CRDF was created to conduct disease and production research to ensure the survival and competitiveness of Florida’s citrus growers.
The CRDF board of directors will meet this week to recommend to FDACS how much, if any, of the three pennies to levy. FDACS makes the final decision on the assessment rate, but historically has deferred to a CRDF recommendation.
The Florida Citrus Research Order establishes, by vote of the producers, a self-imposed assessment or fee to be used for a variety of industry activities, including advertising and promoting their agricultural products; expanding markets and distribution channels; researching improved growing techniques; regulating the quality and grades of their products; regulating trade practices; and resolving other critical problems and needs in the industry.
More information on the referendum can be found here under the Box Tax Referendum heading.
Sources: FDACS and Highlands County Citrus Growers Association