Buchanan Leads Talks on Disaster Aid
SHOCK FORECAST: Worst Orange Crop in 73 Years!
WASHINGTON – As Florida faces the worst orange crop since 1944, Congressman Vern Buchanan led a meeting of nearly 30 bipartisan members of the Florida and Texas congressional delegations Tuesday on the need to secure increased disaster relief funding for the two hurricane-ravaged states.
“Citrus growers are facing their lowest production since Franklin Roosevelt was president,” Buchanan said, citing a newly released forecast by the U.S. Agriculture Department. “Congress needs to act quickly and pass significant disaster relief for growers battered by Hurricane Irma and citrus greening.”
The latest USDA forecast predicts Florida will produce 46 million boxes of oranges for the 2017-2018 season, down more than 80 percent since peak production of 244 million boxes during the 1997-1998 season. In October, the Florida Department of Agriculture announced that Florida citrus sustained more than $760 million in damages due to the hurricane, but those numbers are only expected to grow.
The Florida and Texas delegations recently sent a letter to congressional leadership making clear that the Trump administration’s latest request for post-hurricane aid was inadequate. Buchanan co-chairs the Florida delegation.
Buchanan has also received assurances that his legislation to help citrus growers recover from crippling losses will be included in an upcoming hurricane relief package. His bill, the bipartisan Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act, has been co-sponsored by every member of Florida's 29-member congressional delegation in both the U.S. House and Senate.
The measure 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.
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 House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation.