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Florida Citrus Mutual Thanks Supporters of Farm Bill

January 30th, 2014 by tamara

LAKELAND, Fla. (January 30, 2014) – The country’s largest citrus grower organization offered members of the Florida Congressional delegation a sincere “Thank You” Thursday; a day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Farm Bill containing $125 million in citrus research funding over the next five years.

“The vast majority of Florida’s House members stepped up to the plate on behalf of agriculture to pass a solid Farm Bill that directs our nation’s farm policy in the right direction for the next five years,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The investment in citrus research is going to go a long way in uncovering solutions to citrus greening disease which in turn will help preserve a way of life for communities across Florida.”

“So to Representatives Bilirakis, Brown, Buchanan, Castor, Crenshaw, Diaz-Balart, Frankel, Garcia, Hastings, Murphy, Nugent, Rooney, Ross, Ros-Lehtinen, Southerland, Wasserman Schultz, Webster and Yoho I say ‘Thank You’!” Sparks said. “Of course Senator Bill Nelson on the Senate side, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have been huge in this effort as well.”

The citrus research initiative will be overseen by Secretary Vilsack, in consultation with industry stakeholders from Florida, California and Texas. A committee made up of nine representatives from those states will make funding decisions which must be approved by the Secretary.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It attacks the vascular system of a tree and can kill it within two years. Citrus greening is endemic to Florida and can be found in all 32 commercial citrus producing counties.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering about 530,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. To receive winter weather updates follow FCM on Twitter.

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Florida Citrus Recovery Block Grant – Frequently Asked Questions

April 4th, 2019 by tamara

More than $44 million has been paid out by the Florida Department of Emergency Management (DEM) under the Citrus Block Grant program. Part II inspections have started and payments are expected to ramp up signifi-cantly over the next two weeks. Please read the FAQs below provided by DEM.

Producer Frequently Asked Questions

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Limited Florida FSA Offices Open

January 17th, 2019 by tamara

Dear FCM Members and Friends:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday (January 16) that eight Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in Florida will reopen temporarily despite the shutdown to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers.

If you need a copy of your 890 form as part of the WHIP program, your FSA office may be open on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21.

The following offices in Florida may be open on those three days:
• Alachua County Service Center 5709 NW 13th Street, Gainesville, FL 32653-2130 (352) 372-4668
• Hillsborough Co. Service Center 201 South Collins Street, Suite 201, Plant City, FL 33563-5567 (813) 752-1474
• Holmes County Service Center 103 N. Oklahoma Street, Bonifay, FL 32425-2850 (850) 547-4277
• Lake County Service Center 1725 David Walker Drive, Suite B, Tavares, F 32778-5745 (352) 742-7005
• Madison County Service Center 1416 East US 90, Unit A, Madison, FL 32340-3010 (850) 973-2205
• Miami-Dade Co. Service Center 1450 North Krome Avenue, Suite 102, Florida City, FL 33034 (305) 242-1197
• Okeechobee Co. Service Center 450 NW Hwy 98, Okeechobee, FL 34972-4168 (863) 763-3345
• Sumter County Service Center 7620 SR 471, Suite 3, Bushnell, FL 33513 (352) 793-2651

Please see full USDA press release here https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAOC/bulletins/22899da



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December 7th, 2018 by tamara

BARTOW, Fla. (December 7, 2018) – The Selection Committee for The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame has announced three distinguished leaders who will be inducted into the Hall during the 57th Citrus Celebration Luncheon on Friday, March 8, 2019 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.

Tim Hurner, of Sebring, Fla., Richard J. Kinney (deceased), formerly of Lakeland, Fla. and Peter McClure, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., will be honored at the luncheon, scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. at Florida Southern College.

Tim Hurner is a fourth-generation Florida citrus grower who has spent most of his life and career as an IFAS Extension Citrus Agent, as well as a Center Director, in Highlands County supporting citrus growers in the production and profitability of citrus. In 1990, he assisted growers in the formation of the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association which was designed to help growers keep up with local and regional issues and respond accordingly. Throughout his extension career, he was known as the “go to” person for answers, helping growers’ transition to new technology and conservation methods. As the 4-H Youth Agent for Highlands County, he grew the 4-H program to over 500 members in 4-H Clubs ranging from 4-H, to Home Economics, to 4-H Livestock, to 4-H Horse Clubs. Hurner also taught at Florida Southern in Lakeland, mentoring many students who are now active in leadership roles in the citrus industry today. A Certified Crop Advisor, he received the National CCA Award in 2012, the International CCA Award in 2013 and was awarded a Lifetime CCA status in 2014 for his contributions and leadership of the Florida CCA Program.

Richard J. Kinney will long be remembered as Florida’s most passionate advocate for its fresh citrus industry. Kinney started his career as an Ag Liaison for Representative Andrew Ireland and later for former Governor and Senator Lawton Chiles. He went on to serve as Executive Vice President of Florida Citrus Packers from 1983 until his retirement in 2012. During that time, he worked tirelessly to maintain export and domestic markets for fresh Florida citrus after the discovery of citrus canker, “walking the halls” of Tallahassee and Washington DC building the case for continued market access and ensuring that scientific research supported the cause. He helped the industry through overseas export challenges, citrus greening, in-store juicing debates and discussions, brix level studies, challenging industry consolidation discussions, import citrus dynamics, new packaging and carton size considerations and discussions, He was one of the industry’s foremost experts on trade regulations and pest interdiction, as well as a successful citrus grower. Uncompromising and unapologetic of his defense and advocacy for the fresh fruit packers, he was known as a “bulldog on a soapbox” and fought tirelessly for the betterment of Florida’s fresh fruit citrus industry on numerous issues.

Peter McClure is a fourth-generation citrus grower and is known as “the Godfather” of the Citrus Research & Development Foundation (CRDF), an organization he helped found to combat the devastating spread of HLB. He originally helped create one of the first ever grower funded research organizations, the Florida Citrus Production Advisory Council (FCPAC), which evolved into the CRDF with over $200 million of sponsored, funded and completed research committed to HLB mitigation and control. It is the best positioned organization in the world to coordinate the required research and product development necessary to combat the disease. A longtime production manager with both Becker Holdings and Evans Properties, McClure is currently the Chief Agriculture Officer of Terviva in Ft. Pierce.
He is a recipient of the Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award, the Florida State Horticulture Society’s Outstanding Commercial Horticulturist Award and the St. Lucie County Conservationist of the Year Award.

The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame honors distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry. The Citrus Hall of Fame display and Archive Center is located within the McKay Archive Building at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. For more information on members of the Citrus Hall of Fame, visit the web site at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com which includes access to biographies and photos on all members, noting their accomplishments and including various industry links.

Tickets to the luncheon, which is co-sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and The Florida Department of Citrus, are $100 for Patron Seating or $1,500 for a Sponsor Table, which includes preferred seating for 8, table signage and a listing in the program. The event will be followed by the Florida Citrus Processors’ Association’s OJ “Meet & Greet” with the inductees as they unveil their names on the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame Tree, located in the Sara D. and Kirk McKay Archives Center. An educational citrus exhibit will be featured from January through March and tours of the Citrus Archives will be available. A portion of the proceeds from all ticket sales will go to fund an Educational Outreach program to help promote the history of the Florida citrus industry.

To purchase tickets, please call Florida Citrus Mutual at (863) 682-1111 or visit the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame website at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or via email at BBurne1003@aol.com.


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Joyner Joins Florida Citrus Mutual as Director of Government Relations

November 26th, 2018 by tamara

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Andrew Meadows at (863) 682-1111 or (cell) (863) 944-4924.

BARTOW, FL (November 26, 2018) – Florida Citrus Mutual is pleased to announce and welcome Matt Joyner as its new Director of Government Relations. In this role, Joyner will work on behalf of Mutual’s grower members and staff in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.

Joyner previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Commissioner Adam Putnam providing a broad base of policy knowledge at both the state and federal levels.

Joyner will officially join Mutual’s team on December 10, 2018.

“We are excited and fortunate to have somebody as knowledgeable and talented as Matt come on staff,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Matt has not only a deep understanding of how government works but also the issues facing the Florida citrus grower.”

“Legislative issues are FCM’s highest priority and with Matt’s expertise and experience I am sure he will hit the ground running in both Tallahassee and Washington,” added Sparks.

The Florida citrus industry creates an $8.6 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 46,000 people, and covering about 400,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com. Follow FCM on Twitter @FLCITRUSMUTUAL.

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Plan on Attending Crop Insurance Meeting!

November 3rd, 2018 by tamara

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

Florida Citrus Mutual is urging growers to attend at least one meeting focused on reforming the current citrus fruit insurance program. These “listening sessions” (see schedule below) are designed to get feedback from growers as FCM moves forward with improving the current program or moving to an “Actual Production History” program. Crop insurance reform is now in the spotlight in the wake of Hurricane Irma relief. Come and have your say.

FCM experts will present premium and indemnity scenarios.

You do not have to be a Mutual member to attend. We hope to see you there.


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Nominations Sought for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame

October 17th, 2018 by tamara

Bartow, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2018) — Nominations are now being sought for potential inductees to The Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, with induction ceremonies scheduled to take place on Friday, March 8, 2019 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. The luncheon is co-sponsored by Florida Citrus Mutual and the Florida Department of Citrus.

The mission of the Hall of Fame is to recognize those distinguished leaders that have made significant contributions to the industry and to preserve and share the rich heritage of Florida citrus. Eligible nominees for the Hall of Fame are those distinguished leaders who have made significant contributions to the Florida citrus industry in any of the following fields: pioneers, harvesting, packing, processing, marketing, scientific and/or educational areas.

Last year’s inductees were L. Gene Albrigo, of Daytona Shores, Fla., and Marvin D. Kahn, of Sebring, Fla. Anyone may nominate or re-nominate their choice for the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. Because of the limited number who may be inducted each year, the Hall of Fame encourages interested parties to resubmit candidates that may have been nominated in previous years, but not selected at that time.

The deadline for nominations is November 1st and all nominations should include a summary of the nominee’s accomplishments, letters of support from industry members and a photo. Any nominations received after this date will be considered for the following year. Nomination forms are available by contacting Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314, BBurne1003@aol.com or by visiting the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame web site at www.FloridaCitrusHallofFame.com .

Completed applications must include a photo and should be e-mailed to BBurne1003@aol.com. Hard copies should be sent to Florida Citrus Hall of Fame, 2506 Gardens Parkway, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.

For more information, please contact Brenda Eubanks Burnette at (561) 351-4314 or BBurne1003@aol.com.

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Hurricane Relief Block Grant Info

September 19th, 2018 by tamara

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 18 citrus producers can apply for the Florida Citrus Tree Recovery Program (Block Grant) through the Department of Emergency Management contractors co-located with FSA staff at USDA service centers in Bartow, Kissimmee, Wauchula, Okeechobee, Moore Haven, Fort Myers, and Fort Pierce. Click here for contact information https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=fl&agency=fsa

A requirement of the Block Grant program is that producers must first apply for benefits under the 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP). The 2017 WHIP covers losses of producers impacted by hurricanes and wildfires during 2017. Producers may apply for 2017 WHIP and the Florida Citrus Tree Recovery Program in one visit.

Keep in mind, FDACS, DEM and FCM will hold four informational meetings next week regarding the Florida Citrus Tree Recovery Program (Block Grant). Please plan on attending.

Monday – September 24th , 9:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. – USDA Horticultural Lab – 2001 S Rock Rd. Fort Pierce, FL 34945

Thursday – September 27th , 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Citrus Research and Education Center – 700 Experiment Station Road Lake Alfred, FL 33850

Thursday – September 27th , 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Bert Harris Ag Center 4509 George Blvd. Sebring, FL 33875

Friday – September 28th – 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Dallas Townsend Center 1085 Pratt Blvd. LaBelle, FL 33935

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


Mike Sparks
Florida Citrus Mutual, EVP/CEO

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Set Up WHIP Appointment Now

July 6th, 2018 by tamara

July 6, 2018

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

We wrapped up the fourth Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) meeting in Ft. Pierce yesterday with a large crowd at the ARS facility. All told, Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) and USDA hosted almost 800 attendees during the week. If you didn’t attend one of the events we have some information for you regarding the start of the WHIP application period which begins July 16. At that time, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will also begin distributing fact sheets and more information on the program. We will make sure you get every available piece of information.

FCM suggests you call your local USDA Farm Service Agency office immediately to set up an appointment to discuss WHIP eligibility.

For a list of FSA offices go to https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=fl&agency=fsa

If your farm is not registered and mapped with FSA you will need to do it to take part in WHIP, so when setting up an appointment inquire about the process. You must be in FSA’s system to take part in the WHIP. There are no AGI provisions in the WHIP program, and growers who receive 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from agriculture will be eligible for up to $900,000 in payments while those deriving less than 75 percent from farming will be capped at $125,000. A grower’s insurance coverage will factor into the WHIP payments with more coverage resulting in higher payments.

In addition to WHIP, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) will manage a block grant program that contains $340 million for citrus growers. There are no AGI or payment limits with the block grant program, other than the Congressional mandate that citrus financial recovery cannot exceed 85% of estimated losses for all insured growers, and 65% losses for uninsured growers.

However, anyone who wants to take part in the block grant relief program must first submit a WHIP application. To prevent duplication, the WHIP data will be used to determine eligibility for the block grant program.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) and the industry are still working out the details of the block grant program but we know it will have three buckets of funds:

1. Compensation for the replanting or rehabilitating trees damaged during Irma, including the cost of new trees and irrigation systems, fertilization and other grove
caretaking costs.
2. Compensate growers for lost production.
3. Two year crop insurance subsidy if you commit to buying 60/100 coverage over the next four years. The programs require growers to buy tree and crop insurance for at least
two years. A four year commitment gets the subsidy.

We understand there is a lot of complexity to WHIP and accompanying paperwork. But we believe this is a fair program that will provide the necessary funding to get growers back on their feet in addition to building a foundation for the industry to expand in the coming decade. As more details emerge, we will keep you informed. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.


Mike Sparks
Executive VP/CEO

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USDA-FSA Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP) meetings

June 26th, 2018 by tamara

Dear Florida Citrus Industry:

Florida Citrus Mutual is working with the Gulf Citrus Growers Association, the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association, the Indian River Citrus League and the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association to host four area meetings to introduce the 2018 WHIP which is designed to get citrus growers financial assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The scheduled and agenda are attached. The meeting agenda and subsequent questions are to discuss citrus losses only.

Florida Citrus Mutual and our regional organizations STRONGLY recommend all growers attend one of the meetings. Although attendance is not mandatory the meetings will provide an excellent opportunity for growers to organize their thoughts on the WHIP application process.

Keep in mind, we anticipate that FSA will START ACCEPTING applications by July 16.

If you have any questions about the meeting please reach out to Andrew Meadows at andrewm@flcitrusmutual.com or 863-682-1111

See you soon,


Agenda for Grower WHIP Meetings

Grower Meeting Schedule

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Disaster Relief Programs Announced

May 1st, 2018 by admin

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

Please see press releases below from the USDA on Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief. The first release explains in some detail the WHIP program, which will provide significant dollars to Florida citrus. In the second press release, Secretary Perdue has authorized a $340 million block grant to assist Florida citrus producers specifically. This is great news for the industry. We will keep you apprised of the program details, parameters and deadlines as soon as they are released.

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for his hard work on this issue. Governor Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Congressman Tom Rooney have also done yeoman’s work on our behalf and we are very appreciative.

Let me know if you have any questions.



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