Citrus growers disappointed with new federal budget omnibus

Florida Orange Crop 1
'It leaves Florida citrus growers on the outside looking in.'

At times it seems like everybody got something in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, passed in haste by Congress Dec. 23. That’s not so true, though, as people sort through the document to see what money is going where.

One group that would like more federal assistance and isn’t seeing it is Florida’s citrus growers.

“With this bill, Congress appropriated $40 billion dedicated to disaster relief and most of it will fail to reach those who need it most,” Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Matt Joyner said. “Unfortunately, the bill was written in a back room by Congressional leadership and dropped in the dark of night three days before the deadline.

“It leaves Florida citrus growers on the outside looking in when it comes to disaster relief in 2022. We will now work closely with our delegation and the Administration to determine what existing authority the Secretary (of Agriculture) has to deliver for the Florida citrus growers.”

The issue isn’t so much the money but the method — it doesn’t take advantage of a block-grant funding mechanism already passed by Congress in 2017 meant to funnel dollars after a natural disaster to where they’re needed.

The impacts from weather events this year are clear in the recent citrus forecast.

“The December crop forecast reflects the very real challenges that Hurricane Ian, Hurricane Nicole, and the ongoing impacts of citrus greening have created for growers across the state, but we remain hopeful and motivated to secure the future of our industry,” said Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

“Growers are focused on recovery and continue to invest in new tools to help rebuild. Florida citrus growers are resilient. They have withstood centuries of extreme weather, and this hurricane season is no exception.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Florida orange production to be 20 million boxes, around half of last year. Along with those are an anticipated 1.8 million boxes of grapefruit and 600,000 boxes of tangerines and tangelos.

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:

One comment

  • PeterH

    December 28, 2022 at 12:09 am

    The nanny state of Florida is already the third largest recipient of Federal Aid.

    If citrus growers need a stimulus package they should go knocking on Clarice Starling DeSantis’s door!

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