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Business briefs: USDA estimates Florida's citrus crop is lower than last year

BARTOW -- Hammered by citrus greening disease, Florida's citrus industry will produce an estimated 102 million boxes of oranges during the 2014-15 season.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday released estimates of Florida's citrus crop. The forecast is a decline of 59 percent since the peak of citrus production at 254 million boxes in 1997-98.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said the industry continues to be threatened by citrus greening.

The Palm Beach Post reports he's asked the Legislature for $18 million this year to support research, to grow clean citrus stock and to remove and replant diseased trees.

Greening is a bacterial disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid that weakens and eventually kills trees.

Fitness business to host Realize Bradenton benefit

BRADENTON -- City Fitness of Bradenton is running a strongman competition and fitness festival to benefit Realize Bradenton.

The competition will be at Sutton Park in Palmetto March 21. Strongman events include a truck pull, farmer's walk, log lift, atlas stone and husafell stone. Team events include tug o' war, truck pull, tire flip and bench press.

There is a $40 entry fee for the event. For information call 941-746-4443.

Gateway employees give $38,000 to local charities

BRADENTON -- Gateway Bank employees contributed $38,000 to charitable organizations in Manatee and Sarasota counties last year.

The 41 employees contributed primarily to the United Ways in each county. Another way Gateway employees raise money for the community is through participation in various fundraisers such as the American Heart Association's "Heart Walk," Team Tony Foundation's "Cycle of Life," and American Diabetes Association's "Tour de Cure." Last year, $15,000 in cash was raised through such events, which comple

ment Gateway's corporate wellness program.

Fed orders BofA to resubmit dividend, buyback plans

WASHINGTON -- Bank of America must resubmit its plans to raise dividends or buy back stock, the Federal Reserve has ordered, citing weaknesses in the bank's planning processes.

The Fed announced the decision Wednesday as part of its "stress tests" -- an annual check-up of the nation's biggest financial institutions. This year, 31 banks were tested to determine if they have large enough capital buffers to keep lending through another financial crisis and severe economic downturn.

The central bank is also barring U.S. divisions of two European banks from paying any dividends, saying their planning for financial risks is inadequate. Those divisions belong to Germany's Deutsche Bank and Spain's Santander.

The remaining 28 banks can raise dividends or buy back shares.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

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