Buchanan Cites “Urgent Need” to Help Citrus Industry
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, said today a new report forecasting “unprecedented” damage to Florida’s orange harvest highlights the need for Congress to pass his emergency legislation aimed at helping farmers plant new trees.
Buchanan, co-chairman of the Florida congressional delegation, warned that losses to the Sunshine State’s citrus industry could impact Southwest Florida’s economy.
The latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the orange crop for the upcoming season will be the worst since 1963-64. Buchanan said that the forecast “underscores the urgent need for Congress to pass my Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act. In addition to ravaging millions of trees, citrus greening continues to threaten thousands of jobs for hard-working Floridians. The time is now for Congress to take action on this common-sense legislation.”
The Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act (H.R. 3957) would provide tax incentives for farmers who cannot afford to replace trees affected by citrus greening. Under current law, growers are allowed an immediate deduction for the cost of replanting diseased trees, but the farmer must bear the full cost. Buchanan’s proposal would allow struggling farmers to use this deduction even if they bring in investors to raise capital for replanting costs, as long as the grower continues to own a major stake in the grove. It also extends this incentive to purchasers of land with diseased trees.
The bipartisan bill, which currently has 15 cosponsors, has been endorsed by Florida Citrus Mutual, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation.