At Central Florida Citrus Grove, Rubio Urges Action On Bill To Help Mitigate Costs Of Citrus Greening Bacteria
Jul 22 2016
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) toured a citrus grove in Central Florida late yesterday with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to observe the damage caused by citrus greening and highlight the need for congressional action to combat this disease.
In a media availability following the tour, Rubio cited his efforts to tackle citrus greening and called on Senate leaders to support legislation helping citrus growers affected by this bacteria.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
July 21, 2016
Senator Marco Rubio: “The challenges faced by Florida's citrus industry are long-standing and only have gotten worse over the last few years. We’ve got a great partnership with Senator Nelson and Commissioner Putnam in addressing it.
“The one thing we’re really here to focus on today is an issue that Senator Nelson and I announced today is that before the end of the year we are going to try to get Congress to pass a change in our tax code that would allow these growers to immediately expense the cost of replanting. So when they lose a grove and they lose some trees, they want to go back into the ground and it takes a couple years for those trees to start producing for them again. Under the current tax code, they can depreciate that cost over 14 years, which is far too long given the challenges that they now face. We would allow them to immediately be able to offset the costs of replanting, and that’s what is necessary if we want to have a citrus industry survive in the state.
“We were happy to work with Commissioner Putnam in trying to encourage the EPA to open it up so they can try to use some anti-microbial substances. I think there are two or three now that they’re using, and we’ll see what the results of that are. That was an important step forward and we’ll see if that works in sort of dealing with the Florida citrus greening issue that’s really threatened Florida’s citrus.
“As I said to the group under the tent there a moment ago, Florida citrus is the gold standard for the world. When you have want to have a glass of orange juice with your breakfast, one of the things they brag about is that it’s from Florida. We want to make sure that continues to be the case. We’re talking about 75,000-80,000 jobs directly related to the industry, not to mention the communities that depend on those people that live in those communities to spend back into the local economy.
“And once this land is gone, once it’s no longer being used for this purpose, once it’s developed or turned into a shopping mall or whatever, you’ll never get it back. And agriculture is a key part of our economy and it never gets enough attention. But right now they need as much help as they can get. The last thing we’ve worked on at the federal level is to get them more funding for the research that we can ultimately deal with this once and for all.”
Reporter: “I understand today that you and Senator Nelson sent a letter over to Senate leadership to try to urge them to get the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act moved forward. Can you speak to that?”
Rubio: “Yeah that’s what I mentioned earlier. So at the end of the congressional year always there’s - especially at the end of a presidential term or at the end of a two year congressional term – this effort to pass what are called 'tax extenders', which is basically all of these tax provisions, deductions, and so forth. But if you don’t extend them, next year people are going to see a tax increase. It’s part of that process. What I am hoping will happen – what we are hoping that happens, Senator Nelson and I – is this provision that will allow growers to immediately expense, basically write off of their taxes right away, the costs of replanting will be in the tax code for 2017.
“So that’s what we are going to focus on, that’s what we are going to work in a bipartisan way, and our hope is that we can get that done here before the end of this year so that next year, as growers are replanting, they’ll be able to write that off – the cost of doing so – their taxes. Because if we don’t have replanting then we are going to lose this industry.”
Note: All photos can be credited to the office of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.