Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 by tamara
LAKELAND, FL (September 21, 2016) – The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a measure Wednesday that provides growers with an incentive to plant more trees and bolster the ailing Florida citrus industry.
By a 400-20 vote, Republicans and Democrats approved the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act which 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. To view H.R. 3957 go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3957. The House Ways and Means Committee passed it last week.
“Through this legislation small, medium and large growers will have the opportunity to seek capital from lenders and outside investors to reinvest in Florida citrus,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “We believe the tax incentive will help yield a positive return on an investment in citrus. We need to attract capital to rebound from HLB and this measure is an important tool to get us there.”
FCM estimates the Florida citrus industry needs to put more than 20 million trees in the ground over the next 10 years to support existing infrastructure and get production back to where it was before HLB.
Sparks thanked U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan (R-FL), the bill’s primary sponsor, as well as U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Dennis Ross (R-FL) and the entire Florida delegation.
“What a job by our friends in the House,” he said. “We look forward to working with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to move the bill in the Senate.”
Florida growers are now battling 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.
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.