A critical step in delivering much-needed help for struggling citrus growers has been taken with the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approval of the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act.
Committee member U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is the primary sponsor of the bill (H.R. 3957), which allows growers to immediately expense the cost of planting new citrus instead of the standard 14-year depreciation period under the current IRS rules. The tweak to the IRS code is designed to increase slumping production. It would be available for 10 years.
“The strong committee vote is a clear message: We must do all we can to protect American jobs,” Buchanan said. “We are one step closer to protecting the livelihoods of the 62,000 hardworking Floridians who form the backbone of the Sunshine State’s iconic citrus industry.”
Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) applauded the bill’s first successfully cleared hurdle. Mike Sparks, FCM’s Executive VP/CEO, estimates the state’s citrus industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get our production back to where it was before HLB. “The approval by the Ways and Means Committee is a huge first step in getting the bill passed by both the House and the Senate.”
The entire Florida delegation is co-sponsoring the bill.
In response to the bill’s passage, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam stated: “I am grateful for Congressman Buchanan’s leadership on this critically important legislation and the continued support of the entire Florida delegation for Florida citrus, our state’s signature crop. Growers are projected to harvest the smallest citrus crop in more than 50 years this season, and they need our support until a long-term solution to greening is discovered. The Committee’s passage of the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act is a big first step toward pushing this legislation and its support for Florida growers across the finish line.”
In the Senate, original sponsor U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) earlier this year as a champion of the bill.
The Senate is expected to consider the legislation later this year.