Citrus Industry Moving Forward With Federal Order

The Florida Citrus Mutual Board of Directors recently unanimously endorsed exploring a federal Citrus Research and/or Promotions Order and has asked the Florida Citrus Commission to take the lead in moving the proposal forward at the federal level.

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An order is expected to help solve the “free-rider” issue by levying an assessment on imported juice and all commercial citrus grown in the U.S. to help pay for research and/or promotions. It would be similar to dozens of commodity orders already put in place by USDA.

“This is an important step for the Florida citrus industry,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “We committed to solve the free-rider and this could a move in the right direction but many questions remain unanswered. The proposal will be vetted thoroughly by stakeholders as it progresses, and we will make sure the interests of the Florida citrus grower are protected.”

As part of the process, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture would have to call a referendum of Florida citrus growers to give the order – or parts of it – approval or disapproval. That process could take up to 18 months.

A federal order on research is expected to generate total revenue of $17 million per year, with $6 million of it being incremental. A promotions order has the potential to generate $39 million with $14 million incremental, over and above the revenue already generated for promotion under Florida’s current advertising box tax.

For a summary of the proposed order and a sample referendum ballot, visit Mutual’s website at http://www.flcitrusmutual.com/industry-issues/fdoc_fcc.asp.