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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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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.

Regards,

Mike

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Register Now for Citrus Engineering Conference

April 27th, 2018 by tamara

60th Biennial
CITRUS ENGINEERING CONFERENCE

June 7, 2018

Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Citrus Hall
Citrus Research and Education Center
Lake Alfred, Florida
8 am Registration to 3:30 PM Close of Symposium

Sponsored by
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Processing Subdivision Technical Chapter&
Florida Section

PROGRAM
Juice and By Product Processing
Elizabeth Webb, Engineering Manager, Vincent Corporation

Overview of the PSR for the Processing Industry
Michelle Smith, Senior Policy Analyst, US FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Alternatives to Traditional Feed Mill & Recovery of By-Products from Citrus Peel Disposal
Jose Biot, Global Technical Manager of Citrus Processing, Liquid Foods, JBT Corporation

Steam Explosion to extract Additional Fruit Value from Waste and Unfit Fruit
Christina Dorado, Research Chemist, USDA-ARS
Citrus & Other Subtropical Products
US Horticultural Research Laboratory

Impact of Curing HLB on Costs, Prices, and the Orange Juice Market
C Allen Morris, R.A. Morris Agribusiness Consulting, LLC

The Future of the Florida Citrus Industry
Panel Discussion with audience participation

After 15 years of challenges including declining sales,
hurricanes and HLB, where do we go from here?

A catered lunch is included with your registration.
This Conference will also be available by webcast for those who may be challenged by time or travel

REGISTRATION INFORMATION
To register via the Web, visit our secure registration site at

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2018-60th-biennial-citrus-engineering-conference-tickets-44823421059

PDHs will be awarded, with certificates provided for Professional Engineers attending the full day conference. PDHs are awarded through the ASME Florida Section, a licensed provider of PDHs in Florida through affiliation with ASME New York. Please note Florida Professional Engineers attending the Conference are responsible for retaining a copy of their PDH certificate for the FBPE.

For more information please contact James Stana, Secretary, Citrus Engineering Conference Planning Committee, at CitrusEngineeringSym@gmail.com

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Growers Should Purchase Some Level of Crop Insurance by April 15

April 2nd, 2018 by tamara

By Michael W. Sparks

The Hurricane Irma Florida citrus relief package is moving forward and we expect Secretary Perdue to unveil the program sometime in the next few weeks. FCM is in contact with our allies in Washington and Commissioner Adam Putnam’s staff on a daily basis.

Once the news breaks we will get it out as fast as we can to membership. In the meantime, Florida Citrus Mutual strongly recommends growers purchase some level of crop insurance by April 15, 2018 – the final date to apply for 2018-2019 coverage. Current policyholders who wish to make changes to their existing coverage also have until the April 15 sales closing date to do so. As the details of the citrus relief package emerge, FCM believes purchasing at least catastrophic (CAT) insurance for the 2018-2019 is a show of good faith to the USDA, as well as providing limited protection for citrus growers. It appears the language authorizing the relief dollars does not require crop insurance for the 2018- 2019 season, however as you know everything is open to interpretation.

Buying relatively cheap CAT insurance is well…insurance. Also understand that USDA and Congress are both very keen on crop insurance to offset losses from agricultural disasters, such as Hurricane Irma. We do know recipients of relief dollars will have to purchase crop insurance for the next two “available” years and growers who had crop insurance at the time Irma hit will be eligible for greater relief payments than those who did not. Growers should take a hard look at their risk management portfolios now because there is zero chance our industry will be fortunate enough to secure direct payments should a disaster hit in the future. That train has left the proverbial station. Consequently, Florida Citrus Mutual through its Crop Insurance Advisory Committee is working with consultants, our Congressional delegation and the USDA to make Florida citrus’ insurance products a better tool for growers going forward. It is clear deductibles are too high, premiums are many times unaffordable and indemnity payments are not consistent with current crop values. If we are to survive and ultimately thrive as an industry the situation must be rectified.

For more information on the 2018-2019 citrus fruit policy go to https://www.rma.usda.gov/fields/ga_rso/2019/2019flcitrus.pdf

To see the Risk Management Agency’s press release regarding the April 15 closing date go to https://www.rma.usda.gov/fields/ga_rso/2017/flscd041517.pdf

A list of crop insurance agents is available online at https://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html

Growers can get a premium amount estimate here https://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/

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FCM Applauds Congress for Passing Hurricane Irma Relief Package

February 9th, 2018 by tamara

BARTOW, FL (February 9, 2018) – Florida’s largest citrus grower organization thanks members of the U.S. House and Senate for approving a Florida agriculture disaster package early Friday that will send billions in relief to growers hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

The package – passed as part of the federal budget deal – provides a total of $3.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $2.36 billion of which will be used to make direct payments to Florida producers who’ve suffered hurricane-related crop losses last year. Citrus’ share is expected to be $760 million. The bill now moves to the President.

“We cannot thank the Florida delegation enough for their bi-partisan support of this measure to get citrus growers back on their feet after a catastrophic blow from Hurricane Irma,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Growers and the communities and families that rely on citrus are thankful to say the least. Livelihoods and a way of life are going to be saved because of this funding.”

“Senators Nelson and Rubio were absolutely instrumental in the success of the relief package. On the House side Congressman Rooney, Ross and Diaz-Balart did yeoman’s work for us in addition to almost the entire Florida delegation. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Governor Rick Scott were with us every step of the way and we thank them as well.”

On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma moved through the center of the state hitting Florida’s major citrus producing regions with up to 120 mph winds. The hurricane blew fruit off the tree and caused widespread tree damage. An FCM survey of growers conducted post Irma pegged total fruit loss at more than 65 percent with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the Southwest part of the state.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $8.6 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 46,000 people, and covering about 450,000 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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A Call to Action

February 8th, 2018 by tamara

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) sometime today. The measure to fund the government includes $2.36 billion for Florida agriculture relief.

Please immediately contact your U.S. Representative in the House and strongly urge them to vote “YES” on the bill. We have attached contact information. Do not hesitate to contact House members in other states if you have a relationship with them.

The time is now to push this bill through!

I would suggest you include any or all of the following points:

• Name, location and quick history of your business;
• For the past decade Florida citrus has been fighting HLB, a bacterial disease that kills trees quickly. The disease and the vector are not native to the United States. Citrus production has gone down more than 70% while the cost to grow citrus has nearly tripled. Consequently, for the last ten years, groves have not been sufficiently profitable. To continue to produce citrus, growers have utilized all reserves, there are no retained earnings and loans have been maxed out;
• Hurricane Irma ruined hope that the 2017-18 season would mark a modest rebound. The hurricane brought 110 mph winds and excessive rain which resulted in an estimated 65% crop loss;
• Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam pegged a preliminary citrus damage estimate at $760 million. The number will grow significantly as long-term effects slowly emerge. It will take years to truly understand the destruction of Hurricane Irma;
• We need a relief/rebuild package or a way of life for local communities and a huge economic engine for the State of Florida will disappear.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Please make the call today.
Regards,
Mike

Mike Sparks
Executive VP/CEO
Florida Citrus Mutual

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Section 18 for FireLine, FireWall and MycoShield

January 18th, 2018 by tamara

Please see the attached letter from the EPA regarding the Section 18 emergency exemption for three bactericides. The letter allows growers to continue using FireLine, FireWall and MycoShield. Here is a statement from Commissioner Adam Putnam on the Section 18…

“We must continue to do everything we can to support our citrus industry, and I’m pleased to announce that the EPA has reissued its approval of oxytetracycline and streptomycin for treating citrus greening. While the citrus industry is in dire straits, the industry has always been resilient. It has persevered through challenging times before, and it will do so again. Florida’s farmers are among the toughest people I know. We’re going to continue to use every resource available not only to fight citrus greening, but also to rebound from Hurricane Irma.”

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Florida Citrus Mutual at 863.682.1111.

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New Compliance Agreements Required Effective January 1, 2018

December 20th, 2017 by tamara

From the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

All commercial growers, caretakers, harvesters and processors will be required to sign a new CHRP compliance agreement effective January 1, 2018. The general requirements of the agreements have not changed in that growers are still asked to implement self-survey, psyllid control and decontamination programs and should adopt the latest recommendations for pest and disease control available from UF-IFAS.

All personnel and equipment should be properly decontaminated and equipment should be free of any debris and plant material before entering another grove property. Trip tickets for fruit moving from non-quarantine areas must be clearly written and serially numbered and include the grove name, block identification, landowner or agent’s name, lessee, harvester, number of boxes, fruit variety, vehicle tag number, destination and date of harvest along with the compliance agreement number for the owner of each block harvested.

There is additional language in the agreements with regard to moving fruit from Citrus Black Spot (CBS) regulated areas and is explained in detail in Part II of the grower/caretaker and harvester/handler compliance agreements including decontamination and tarping.

Shipment of Fruit to the European Union: Earlier this year, several changes to the federal guidelines were adopted that will affect fresh fruit movement for areas regulated for citrus canker and CBS effective January 1, 2018. Those growers who would like to ship fresh fruit this season will need to sign the new compliance agreement prior to January 1, 2018. In additional to the requirements below, there is a quality assurance component showing that growers are following the recommended cultural practices for in the UF-IFAS Florida Citrus Production Guide:

- For shipment of fruit to the European Union from outside of counties that are quarantined for CBS but under the statewide citrus canker quarantine, growers are required to implement cultural practices to minimize the effects and spread of citrus canker as recommended in the UF-IFAS Florida Citrus Production Guide. CHRP regulatory inspectors will conduct quality assurance checks to show implementation of cultural practices. Growers will be required to make a “CC” notation on trip tickets to indicate that the grower is in compliance with the practices and also include their grower compliance number on the trip ticket. Proof of area freedom from CBS is required and will be validated by CBS survey and Multi-Pest survey performed by FDACS inspectors.

- For shipment of fruit to the European Union from within the CBS countywide quarantines and under the statewide citrus canker quarantine (counties quarantined for CBS are Collier, Hendry, Lee and Polk), preharvest surveys will be required; harvest permits will be issued for proof of freedom from disease along with grower assurance of the implementation of cultural practices per the UF-IFAS Florida Citrus Production Guide instructions in pest and disease management. Growers will mark trip tickets with “TARP-Q” to show the fruit is coming out of a CBS quarantine, make the “CC” notation to indicate the growers’ efforts to mitigate the incidence of citrus canker in their groves and include their grower compliance number on the trip ticket.

The new compliance agreements are available from the five CHRP offices as follows and they can assist you in getting the new agreement signed:

Avon Park 863-314-5900
Immokalee 239-675-4001
Tavares 352-609-6190
Vero Beach 772-778-5069
Winter Haven 863-298-3000

Email: DPI-CHRP@freshfromflorida.com

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Florida Citrus Crop Continues to Plummet in the Wake of Irma

December 12th, 2017 by tamara

BARTOW, FL (December 12, 2017) – Hurricane Irma continues to haunt Florida farmers as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday once again decreased its monthly estimate of the state’s 2017-2018 citrus crop.

The USDA now says Florida will produce 46 million boxes of oranges, down 4 million boxes from November and 8 million boxes from October. The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly until the end of the season in July. For more information go to https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/

“This is exactly what we thought would happen as the true damage begins to rear its ugly head in the groves across Florida,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest grower organization. “Unfortunately the situation is going to get worse before it gets better; we think the actual size of the 2017-2018 will not be known until the season is over and all the fruit is picked.”

“Clearly, this lower estimate provides stark evidence that Congress needs to pass a citrus relief package so we can start to rebuild and put the industry on a path to sustainability while saving the communities that rely on citrus.”

On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma moved through the center of the state pounding Florida’s major citrus producing regions with up to 110 mph winds and 15 inches of rain. The hurricane blew fruit off the tree and caused widespread tree damage. A FCM survey of growers conducted post Irma pegged total fruit loss at almost 60 percent with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the Southwest part of the state.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $8.6 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 46,000 people, and covering about 450,000 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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FCM Says Irma Damage Threw Off USDA Citrus Crop Estimate

October 12th, 2017 by tamara

LAKELAND, FL (October 12, 2017) – Florida’s largest citrus grower organization said Thursday the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s initial estimate of the 2017-2018 citrus crop is well above the crop predicted by the results of their grower damage survey.

Florida Citrus Mutual believes the agency could not accurately account for the full extent of the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Irma. Historically, the USDA has a high margin of error in crop years with a natural disaster.

“I’m disappointed the USDA did not delay the traditional October crop estimate until more data could be collected to fully assess the damage wrought by Irma,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Irma hit us just a month ago and although we respect the skill and professionalism of the USDA, there is no way they can put out a reliable number in that short time period.”

On September 10, 2017 Hurricane Irma moved through the center of the state hitting Florida’s major citrus producing regions with up to 120 mph winds. The hurricane blew fruit off the tree and caused widespread tree damage. An FCM survey of growers conducted post Irma pegged total fruit loss at more than 50 percent with some reports of 100 percent fruit loss in the Southwest part of the state.

The USDA makes its first estimate in October of each year and revises it monthly as the crop takes shape until the end of the season in July. For more information go to https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Florida/Publications/Citrus/

The USDA’s total orange forecast is for 54 million boxes, made up of 23 million Early and Midseason and 31 million boxes of Valencias. The total grapefruit forecast is for 4.9 million boxes, with whites at 900,000 and colored at 4 million boxes. Total specialty comes in at 1 million boxes.

Mutual’s grower survey predicted the 2017-2018 orange crop closer to 31 million boxes.

“The long-term effect of Irma on our industry will take years to sort out,” Sparks said. “We had groves underwater and those trees aren’t just going to bounce back and continue producing fruit. They are gone.”

“Just like when the hurricanes hit in 2004-2005 and dramatically re-shaped out industry. Irma was a historic event that dealt Florida citrus a major blow.”

The Florida citrus industry creates a $8.6 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 46,000 people, and covering about 450,000 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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Hurricane Irma Survey

September 19th, 2017 by tamara

Dear Mutual Members and Friends:

I hope this finds you well and in recovery mode. We are eyeing the current storm activity in the Gulf and are cautiously optimistic none will follow the path of Irma.

Thank you so much to those of you who have answered our short Irma damage survey. The information will go a long way to provide Legislators, the industry and officials with a baseline to create a financial assistance program as well as support the various legislative asks we are pursuing at the state and federal level to get citrus trees back in the ground.

To those of you who have not sent us the survey, please take a few minutes and do it now. I cannot emphasize how important it is to have this information quickly and accurately.

Send your answers to floridacitrusmutual@yahoo.com .

Questions:

1) What county(s) and how many acres do you manage?

2) Estimate total fruit loss as a percentage

3) Estimate the acute wind damage to trees as a percentage

4) Estimate acres in standing water as total acres and as a percentage

Please forward this email to every grower you know – they may not be on our distribution list and we need as much data as possible. We hope that you can favor us with a response by Thursday September 21. However, we will incorporate subsequent responses.

Thanks for your help on this and we will keep you updated as information comes in.

Regards,

Mike Sparks
Executive VP/CEO

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