Citrus Research Bill Gets New Life

The Florida Senate overrode Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto of HB 981, a measure which — among other things — codifies the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) and raises the cap on the citrus research assessment from one to three cents. In May, Crist chose to veto the bill despite almost unanimous approval in the legislature.

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House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Senator JD Alexander, and Rep. Denise Grimsley helped lead the charge on the veto override.

In addition to the CRDF, the HB 981 contains greenbelt language that will protect farmers from losing the agriculture classification because land is put up for sale. This provision will offset any misguided opinions by property appraisers. It also provides interagency agreements, which would allow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to work with other agencies on the regulation of pesticides to waters of the state – an issue arising from a Sixth Circuit Court case decision to allow EPA to require NPDES permits for pesticide applications.

“Making HB 981 law was crucial if our industry is going to beat this insidious disease. Only through the leadership of House Speaker Dean Cannon, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Senator JD Alexander and Rep. Denise Grimsley was this override made possible. Mutual would like to extend a sincere thank you to all the legislators for their hard work,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.

According to a news report, newly elected Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said in response to the veto override, “Our legislative leaders have acted boldly and responsibly in protecting open spaces and working agricultural lands for future generations from an inconsistent application of tax policy. This bill will bring evenhandedness to property taxes on these farms and ranches.”

For more background on this topic, see the following links:

  • Ag Organizations Call For Override Of Vetoes
  • Citrus Industry Feeling Squeezed
  • Governor Grounds Ag Bills

Sources: Florida Citrus Mutual, www.capitalsoup.com