Buchanan Citrus Aid Bill to be in Next Hurricane Relief Package
Hurricane Wiped Out 70% of State’s Orange Crop
WASHINGTON – A key House leader said Rep. Vern Buchanan’s legislation to help citrus growers recover from crippling losses will be included in a hurricane relief package to be considered by Congress in October, Buchanan announced today.
Buchanan said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, assured him the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act (H.R. 112) would be part of an aid package next month. “The chairman is very aware of the crisis facing orange growers in Florida, Texas, California and other states,” Buchanan said. “I’m pleased at his dedication and commitment to help the thousands of farmers who are struggling with crops destroyed by the hurricanes.”
Buchanan’s bipartisan measure is co-sponsored by every member of Florida's 29-member congressional delegation in both the U.S. House and Senate.
“Florida farmers are hurting and they need our help,” said Buchanan. “This bill will go a long way toward protecting the livelihoods of so many who have seen their world turned upside down by Irma.”
Congress already has passed one $15 billion hurricane aid bill and is expected to pass another tomorrow helping families and individuals recover through temporary tax relief. Buchanan’s measure will be added to a third aid bill next month.
Buchanan’s citrus bill would make it less costly for growers to replace trees damaged by Hurricane Irma or citrus greening. The bill provides tax incentives for farmers who cannot afford to replace damaged trees.
Under current law, growers are allowed an immediate deduction for the cost of replanting 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.
The bill has been endorsed by the Bradenton Herald, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Lakeland Ledger, Sun Newspapers, the Panama City News Herald and the Ocala Star-Ledger. The Ledger called Buchanan's legislation a “must pass” while the Bradenton Herald said it was a “no-brainer.”
Experts estimate a 50 to 70 percent crop loss in Florida from Hurricane Irma. Citrus growers are experiencing up to 90 percent losses in some places.
Buchanan is a senior member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation. He is also co-chairman of the bipartisan Florida congressional delegation.