Gov. DeSantis approves millions for citrus industry, visits Bonita Springs

Boosting Florida’s citrus industry, the state will allocate millions of dollars to help restore it to its former glory. After disasters like Hurricane Irma and citrus greening disease, farmers have been struggling for years.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared at the 2019 Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference held at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs Thursday to announce $77 million in funding for the citrus industry.

“It’s a challenging environment,” citrus grower Len Hollister said.

Hollister is one of many growers who took part in the conference.

“It’s maintenance and surviving in the short term while we develop the long-term solutions and strategies,” Hollister said.

Many farmers were negatively affected by the impact of Irma in 2017. The governor’s office estimated 420,000 acres of orange groves were destroyed by the storm, which amounts to nearly $800 million lost.

“When people think of Florida, they think of Florida oranges,” DeSantis said.

The money DeSantis approved is supposed to directly benefit to farmers who lost crops to Hurricane Irma. But he also warned them to make wise use of the funding allocated.

“Now is not the time to bring in citrus from South Africa that may have pests or other diseases,” DeSantis said.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statistics, Florida is still the national leader over California in orange production.

Andrew Meadow of Florida Citrus Mutual called the funding a lifeline.

“We’re always going to be a strong economic engine for the state,” Meadows said. “We’re always going to a provide employment for the citizens of Florida.”

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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