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Congressman Files Bill To Help Citrus Industry

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A Florida Congressman filed a bill recently that expands tax incentives for citrus growers.

The bill has bipartisan support from Florida House members and industry stakeholders.

They hope it will keep growers in the industry, even as it buckles under the devastating disease called citrus greening.

The bill extends tax incentives to growers that use investors to raise money. The government would pay the full cost of replanting trees affected by citrus greening on those farms.

The bill by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, said growers just have to own a majority of their business.

Right now, tax codes only cover growers who pay for everything.

Andrew Meadows with the industry trade organization Florida Citrus Mutualsaid the bill should get more trees planted.

“Is it going to result in mass replantings? Probably not, but is it going to tip some growers who are looking in investing towards putting trees in the ground? Yes. So it’s a tool for growers,” he said.

The bill also covers someone who buys land that has damaged trees on it.

Florida growers are facing bleak crop predictions because of citrus greening. They’re expected to produce 74 million boxes of oranges in 2015-16. That’s down 8 percent from the previous year. 

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News.