The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday voted to favorably report the Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act to the U.S. House.
Favorably reporting the bill allows it to move forward to consideration by the full House.
The bill, proposed by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, would aid Florida farmers affected by citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease that eventually kills orange trees. It is estimated that greening is in 99 percent of Florida groves, where it has killed 20 million trees in the past decade.
20Million trees in the past decade killed by citrus greening
Buchanan’s bill would make it less costly for growers to replace trees by providing tax incentives to them. Currently, growers are allowed an immediate deduction for the cost of replanting diseased trees, but must bear the full cost.
Under the proposed bill, farmers would be allowed to use this deduction even if they bring in investors to raise capital for replanting costs, as long as the grower continues to own a major stake in the grove. It also extends this incentive to purchasers of land with diseased trees.
“This disease puts 62,000 jobs at risk in my state alone,” Buchanan testified Wednesday.
Members of the citrus growing community praised the bill this week for its potential to attract new investment for the struggling citrus growers.
The full House is expected to vote on the bill next week, and passage is expected, according to Buchanan’s press office.