Governor Ron DeSantis has unveiled a $114 billion budget proposal for the 2024-25 fiscal year, earmarking $20 million to bolster Florida's citrus industry. The allocation is aimed at supporting citrus research and the Citrus Health Response Program, with an additional $5 million slated for the Department of Citrus to enhance research and advertising initiatives.
In recent years, Florida's citrus industry has grappled with various challenges, including development, crop diseases, and adverse weather conditions, resulting in a decline. The proposed financial injection is a strategic move to aid the industry's recovery.
Tim Sallin, co-CEO of Cherry Lake Farm in Groveland, welcomes the state's commitment, emphasizing the industry's need for support. Despite the industry's struggles over the past two decades, Sallin believes there's a positive shift, and state backing at this juncture is vital for its resurgence.
Cherry Lake Farm has been at the forefront of research and innovation, particularly with its Citrus Under Protective Screen (C.U.P.S.) indoor grove. Sallin notes the drastic impact of challenges like citrus greening, which led to a significant reduction in citrus acreage in Florida. C.U.P.S., as a controlled environment, not only prevents crop diseases but also promotes ecological sustainability, using fewer chemicals, enhancing soil and plant health, and yielding more produce on less land.
As the state contemplates this investment, Sallin remains committed to fortifying citrus production in his community, highlighting the importance of state support in overcoming challenges and ensuring the industry's resilience.