Florida Department of Agriculture

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A Lee County circuit court judge said the state agriculture department needs to repay local residents for destroyed citrus trees, or explain why it refuses to pay. The Florida Department of Agriculture has less than 40 days to respond.

Jessica Meszaros / WGCU News

A lawyer for thousands of families in Lee and Broward Counties is taking Florida agriculture officials to court over money the state owes them. Officials removed healthy citrus trees across the state in a failed effort to eradicate the bacterial disease citrus canker. The families won their cases, but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed their reimbursements in the state budget. The attorney said he may also take legal action against the governor.

Topher Forhecz / WGCU News

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Gov. Rick Scott has vetoed a part of the state budget that would’ve compensated residents in Lee and Broward Counties years after the state removed their healthy citrus trees. The 16-year battle for reimbursement continues.

Photo: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

Cuts by the Florida Department of Agriculture will eliminate a supplemental food program used by nearly 2,300 low income seniors in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, according to department officials and distributing agency, the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The cuts go into effect Jul. 1. 

The cuts are through the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program, administered by Florida's Department of Agriculture since January 2015. The state agricultural agency says it's eliminating the program in the three counties while also expanding it in nearby Glades and Hendry counties.

Jessica Meszaros / WGCU News

The state is spending $4 million to remove abandoned orange groves across Florida. That’s about four times the budget state agriculture officials had in past years for this effort. 

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