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FCM Applauds Tax Measure to Increase Tree Plantings

Friday, November 6th, 2015

LAKELAND, FL (November 6, 2015) – Florida Citrus Mutual on Friday applauded a measure introduced by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-16) that would provide growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the troubled Florida citrus industry.

H.R. 3957 – The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act – 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.

Florida growers are now battling citrus greening, or HLB, 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 has reduced production more than 50 percent over the past decade.

“By some estimates our 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,” said Michael W. Sparks, Executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “Rep. Buchanan’s bill will help eliminate some of the financial risk growers are weighing when they decide whether to re-plant. Growers want to farm and this measure will tip the scales and get them back in the game even in this tough environment.”

“We appreciate the hard work of Congressman Buchanan and all of the Florida Congressional delegation who supports this bill. It truly is a bi-partisan effort.”

Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Bilirakis, Castor, Crenshaw, Curbelo, Diaz-Balart, Hastings, Jolly, Murphy, Rooney, Ross, Wasserman-Schultz and Yoho.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $10.7 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 62,000 people, and covering about 500,000 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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Farm Credit’s Ron O’Connor named National Friend of Extension

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

During the recent October 2015 National Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) Conference in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, Florida’s Ron O’Connor was named a National Friend of Extension for Epsilon Sigma Phi. Each year, ESP recognizes up to four volunteers from across the country – business leaders, volunteers or public servants – that go above and beyond in their assistance to Extension professionals. Extension is the National system of delivering research-based programs and information to the people from Land-Grant Universities.

Sumter County Agent Martha Maddox originally nominated Mr. O’Connor for this recognition, which was endorsed by Florida ESP and UF/IFAS Extension. Florida’s Alpha Delta Chapter of ESP, made up of faculty from the University of Florida/IFAS and Florida A&M University, recommended Mr. O’Connor for this national award.

A native Floridian and graduate of the University of Florida, Ron O’Connor is deeply devoted to the Extension family and plays a vital role in supporting the total Extension program. Ron said, “I was honored to receive this award at the National level. I accepted this award on behalf of the three Florida Farm Credit Associations and the hard working, resilient, member-borrowers. They provide me the resources that allow me to work with the wonderful professionals in UF/IFAS Extension at both the state and county levels.”

He began his career with Farm Credit of Central Florida in 1987 as Marketing Manager and was named National Farm Credit Marketer of the Year in 1997. During his tenure at Farm Credit, the association’s marketing and advertising programs have earned four Crystal Biostar Awards, symbolizing the Farm Credit systems best program in that category. He also chairs the statewide marketing committee, which combines resources of all three Florida Farm Credit Associations to achieve maximum exposure for Farm Credit at Florida’s premier agricultural events. He currently serves as Director of Marketing and Governmental Affairs, where he is charged with coordinating advertising and marketing programs to enhance awareness of the Farm Credit Advantage. Additionally, he tracks legislative and regulatory issues affecting the association and communicates with appropriate organizations and individuals on behalf of Farm Credit as directed by their Directors and President.

If there is an UF/IFAS Extension or agriculture event going on in Florida, you will probably see Ron O’Connor there, whether it’s an industry event, Extension, 4-H or FFA, Ron is usually in attendance, and is generally taking pictures to memorialize the event, and which he shares openly.

Ron serves as a Board member and primary photographer for the Florida Ag Hall of Fame, is a member and Past President of The Florida Agriculture Institute, is Past Vice President of the Florida Citrus Showcase and serves on the Florida FFA Foundation board.. Additionally he is a member of the Florida Council of Cooperatives, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and FNGLA’s Allied Committee, and has received an Honorary FFA Membership and Degree.

Ron has been responsible for providing numerous sponsorships for Extension and 4-H Youth activities throughout his 25 plus years with the Florida Farm Credit System. The sponsorships Ron helps provide through Farm Credit assist in reducing the costs of conducting these educational programs and helps reduce the fees that would otherwise be passed to participating Extension clientele. Through Ron’s efforts, Farm Credit sponsors the annual Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents Young Professional Award, which includes not only a plaque but a monetary award as well; the agent recipients use these funds for local programming or for expanded professional development training. Ron was instrumental in securing a $20,000 sponsorship from the National Farm Credit Council Services for the 2012 NAE4HA conference held in Orlando, which made Farm Credit the biggest sponsor of this conference, and helped reduced the registration cost for Extension agents attending that professional development event.

Ron has served in numerous advisory and support roles for Extension groups and activities over the course of his career with Farm Credit. He serves on local 4-H and Extension Advisory committees, as well as area and state wide committees. He is one of the Stakeholder Advisory and Planning Committee members of the Extension Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Conference. This is the major state wide annual conference for small and alternative farmers. He has not only secured sponsorship funds for this conference from Farm Credit, but serves in the planning advisory capacity for the conference as well. Ron is one of the Extension supporters we can truly always count on for support whether monetarily, advisory or in lobbying efforts on Extensions behalf.

Epsilon Sigma Phi is professional fraternity of Extension Educators across the US. It leads the Extension System in providing and facilitating professional development that focuses on the Extension organization and the Extension professional.

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Oriental Fruit Fly-Aerial Spray Update, Maps and Q&A

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Below is a letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regarding recent Oriental Fruit Fly finds.


As you are aware, we detected a male Oriental fruit fly yesterday outside the core areas where previous flies were found. As a result, the quarantine zone has been expanded, and the duration of the quarantine has been extended to February 5, 2016. The updated map of the quarantine zone can be accessed at the link below.

This morning, we determined it necessary to begin aerial spraying treatment to prevent further spread of and devastation caused by the Oriental fruit fly. Aerial spray treatments will be applied over night as early as Friday, October 2, weather permitting. A map denoting the area that will be sprayed can be accessed at the link below.

The insecticide to be applied is Spinosad, also known as GF-120. It is approved for organic use and is a common ingredient in garden products and veterinary medicines routinely prescribed to pets. Spinosad poses no hazard to people, pets, farm animals or wildlife. We are working to notify individuals who are registered as “chemically sensitive” with the U.S. Department of Health. We are also working to notify beekeepers and will assist them to take measures to ensure the safety of their bees. The spray may leave a sticky residue on homes and cars, which can be removed with water.

Here are additional resources regarding these changes to the Oriental fruit fly eradication program:
• Map of updated quarantine zone and planned aerial spray treatment: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/62907/1443160/version/1/file/09292015_OFF_REDLAND_COMBINED_TREATMENT_AND+QUARANTINE_ZONES_24X24.pdf
• Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding aerial spray treatment: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/62908/1443165/version/1/file/FAQ_aerial_spraying.pdf
• FDACS Oriental fruit fly helpline: 1-888-397-1517
• Oriental fruit fly website: www.FreshFromFlorida.com/Orientalfruitfly

We will circulate an update on today’s finds later this afternoon, but wanted to provide you with these updates as quickly as possible.


Cheryl Fulford Flood
Director of External Affairs
Office of Commissioner Adam H. Putnam
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

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Commissioner Adam Putnam Declares State of Agricultural Emergency for Oriental Fruit Fly Infestation

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

MIAMI, Fla.—Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today declared a state of agricultural emergency due to the Oriental Fruit Fly infestation in Miami-Dade County. The Oriental Fruit Fly is considered one of the most serious of the world’s fruit fly pests due to its potential economic harm. It attacks more than 430 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, including: avocado, mango, mamey, loquat, lychee, longon, dragon fruit, guava, papaya, sapodilla, banana and annona. The fruit flies lay their eggs in host fruits and vegetables. Since the first detection of the Oriental Fruit Fly on Aug. 26, 2015 in Miami-Dade County, a total of 158 flies have been detected, specifically in the Redland area (156), Kendall (1) and Miami (1).

“The Oriental Fruit Fly is one of the world’s most destructive pests and poses a significant threat to Florida’s $123 billion agriculture industry and the two million jobs it supports. Miami-Dade County’s agriculture industry is a $1.6 billion industry, and we will use every weapon in our arsenal that’s necessary to eradicate this pest and protect Florida agriculture and our economy,” stated Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The infestation threatens the area’s ability to produce the fruit and vegetables the nation has grown to rely on during the winter months, the region’s overall economic health and the thousands of jobs that rely on this industry. Miami-Dade County is the state’s leader in the production of tropical vegetables, tropical fruit and ornamental nurseries, and overall agricultural production generates more than $1.6 billion in annual economic impact and supports more than 11,000 jobs.

The department, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been aggressively working to eradicate this pest. Efforts include:

Assisting industry with the requirements of their compliance agreements;

Quarantining an 85-square-mile area around the core areas where detections have been made in order to prevent the spread of the fly;

Treating a 1.5-square-mile area around each fly detection. This treatment, which is conducted by the department, consists of attracting male flies to bait which consists of an attractant, an insecticide, and a thickening agent. The flies are killed when they feed on the bait. The bait mixture is applied weekly to upper portions of telephone and utility poles. The application will continue for at least two life cycles of the fly after each find, which is approximately 60 days;

Removal of fruit from host trees—while leaving the trees—within 200 meters of a larval or mature female fruit fly find; and

Ground spraying with GF120, a pesticide certified for use in organic farming. Spinosad (GF-120 NF NaturalyteTM Fruit Fly Bait) is an insecticide that is extracted from the naturally occurring soil microbe, Saccharopolyspora spinosa. Spinosad is in common use by organic growers and was granted a “Green Chemistry” award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which classifies it as “reduced risk” because of its good environmental profile.

It is important to note that all appropriate protocols are in place and that the fruits and vegetables introduced into the marketplace from this area are certified for movement and safe for consumption by the public.

To view a copy of the declaration, click here. For more information, visit FreshFromFlorida.com, or call 1-888-397-1517.


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USDA Purchase of Orange Juice

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Dear FCM Members and Friends:

We just received some great news. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will purchase $20 million worth of surplus frozen concentrate orange juice as part of the fiscal 2015 Section 32 bonus purchase program. Florida Citrus Mutual made a multi-year request for significant purchases to Secretary Vilsack last month and we are fortunate this purchase was authorized just before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year with what remained of the Section 32 funds.

As you probably know, the Section 32 program supplies the USDA’s feeding programs with domestic products while improving U.S. farmers’ purchasing power. Most likely, the USDA purchase will be for 100% Florida orange juice only, although California or Texas orange juice would qualify. The USDA has made several Section 32 purchases of Florida citrus products over the years.

Florida Citrus Mutual estimates a $20 million purchase would move about 6 million pound solids which would lower inventory by about one week of supply. If this all moves before October 1, a 2.5% reduction in supply is anticipated. This purchase is expected to be worth about $.02/ps on average over the entire orange crop. Although it is relatively small on average, it means a lot in total, $12 million in Florida Citrus Farm Gate Revenue.

We believe the current $20 million OJ purchase is the initial buy in what should be a series of purchases over the next few years to help alleviate inventories. Clearly, this will have a positive effect on grower returns.

FCM thanks Secretary Vilsack and Senator Bill Nelson for their hard work on this request as well as U.S. Congressmen Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross and the entire Florida Congressional delegation. We very much appreciate all they do for our industry.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.



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Operation Cleansweep Underway

Friday, August 14th, 2015

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service has announced the launching of the 2015-16 “Operation Cleansweep”. The purpose of “Operation Cleansweep” is to offer a safe, convenient, and cost effective mechanism for agricultural operations, golf courses, and pest control companies to properly dispose of canceled, suspended, and unusable pesticides (CSUP). The links to the program Brochure and Guidelines below:



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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Now Accepting Applications for 2015 Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is now accepting nominations for the 2015 Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award through August 15. Nominees for the award must be at least 25 years of age, be active in the agriculture industry and have resided in the state of Florida for the past 10 consecutive years.
In addition, she must have served her community in some professional or civic capacity and have made some unique or outstanding contribution to the agriculture industry.

The department has recognized more than 30 women who have made a significant contribution to Florida agriculture. Recipients of the Woman of the Year in Agriculture Award have come from all parts of the industry, including: cattle, vegetables, timber, citrus, row crops, equine, horticulture, tropical fruits, sugar cane, dairy, agricultural journalism and agricultural education and outreach.

Earlier this year, the department recognized Belinda G. Chason as the 2014 Woman of the Year in Agriculture for her more than four decades of contributions to agriculture education. Chason was the first female Executive Director of the FFA in Florida and the first female to serve on the National FFA Board of Directors.

The recipient will be honored at next year’s Florida State Fair in Tampa. For more information about the program or to download the 2015 nomination application, visit http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Marketing-and-Development/Agriculture-Industry/Agricultural-Awards-and-Honors/Woman-of-the-Year-in-Agriculture-Award

The deadline for nominations is August 15.

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Second case of citrus disease found in L.A. County

Monday, July 13th, 2015

From the Fresno Bee

California agriculture officials have discovered the second case of huanglongbing, a fatal citrus disease, in the San Gabriel area of Los Angeles County.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture said the disease, also known as citrus greening, was detected in plant material taken from a kumquat tree in a residential neighborhood.

This is only the second time the disease been found in California, the nation’s leading supplier of navel oranges. The first find was in 2012 in a residential citrus tree in Hacienda Heights, about 15 miles from San Gabriel.

Citrus greening does not pose a threat to humans or animals but is deadly to citrus trees. The Asian citrus psyllid can spread the bacteria as the pest feeds on citrus trees and other plants. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure. It typically declines and dies within a few years.

“Citrus is a cherished part of our landscape and our shared history, as well as a major agricultural crop,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “CDFA is moving quickly to protect the state’s citrus. We have been planning and preparing for HLB detections with our growers and our colleagues at the federal and local levels since before the Asian citrus psyllid was first detected here in 2008.”

A CDFA crew removed and disposed of the infected tree. The state will also begin treating citrus trees for the Asian citrus psyllid within 800 meters of the find site.

An intensive survey of local citrus trees and psyllids has also been launched to find out if the disease has spread. A quarantine of the area to limit the spread of the disease is also expected soon. The state will restrict the movement of citrus trees, citrus plant parts, green waste, and all citrus fruit except what is commercially cleaned and packed. As part of the quarantine, citrus and closely related plants at nurseries in the area will be placed on hold.

The Asian citrus psyllid was first detected in California in 2008, and quarantines are now in place in 17 California counties. If Californians have questions about the ACP or HLB, they may call CDFA’s toll-free pest hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or visit: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/acp/

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/business/agriculture/article27014353.html

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Sales Tax Exemption Now in Effect for Qualiying Power Farm Equipment

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

With the recent passage of the Qualifying Power Farm Equipment Exemption additional items have been added to the exempt sales tax language. There are certain restrictions that apply and an exemption certificate will need to be filled out in order to claim the exemption. Links to the forms for irrigation, equipment, trailers and stakes are attached below.

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE CERTAIN POWER FARM EQUIPMENT, REPAIRS, PARTS, OR ACCESSORIES – https://revenuelaw.state.fl.us/LawLibraryDocuments/2015/06/TIP-119398_TIP%2015A01-11%20Power%20farm%20equipment%20-%20FINAL.pdf

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE FARM TRAILERS WEIGHING 12,000 POUNDS OR LESS – https://revenuelaw.state.fl.us/LawLibraryDocuments/2015/06/TIP-119399_TIP%2015A01-10%20Exemption%20for%20Farm%20Trailers%20-%20TIP%20FINAL.pdf

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE STAKES USED TO SUPPORT PLANTS DURING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION – https://revenuelaw.state.fl.us/LawLibraryDocuments/2015/06/TIP-119400_TIP%2015A01-15%20Sales%20of%20Stakes%20Used%20to%20Support%20Plants%20During%20Agricultural%20Productio.pdf

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A Statement From Mike Sparks to the Lakeland Ledger Regarding Study and Subsequent Reports Linking Citrus to Skin Cancer

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The following is a statement from Florida Citrus Mutual’s Executive Vice President Michael W. Sparks as given to the Lakeland Ledger regarding the study and subsequent reports linking citrus to skin cancer.

This is the next example of irresponsible journalism and irresponsible science regarding the nation’s food supply. It is infuriating that citrus products have to take an unnecessary hit to their reputation based on an ill-conceived study. One of the researchers is even quoted as saying people shouldn’t avoid citrus because of the report. Furthermore, scientific commentary regarding the study points out several weaknesses in its structure including the fact the subjects were not a representative sample of the general population. The scientists involved in this study should be ashamed for releasing it and they should be held accountable. Our consumers are smart enough to eat citrus so I’m confident they’ll be smart enough to see through this study.

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