Do you have an old citrus grove that is no longer productive but you would like to keep your agricultural tax exemption? Agricultural tax exemptions are only provided to working agricultural enterprises and many old groves may no longer qualify. Citrus canker and citrus greening have caused many groves to decline to the point that the cost of management far exceeds the returns, if any fruit can even be harvested. Abandoned and unmanaged groves harbor pests and diseases that threaten any nearby citrus. Destroying unwanted and unproductive citrus trees will help the citrus industry and may allow grove owners to qualify for the lowest tax rates available.
Steps to take
1. Contact your local Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry (DPI) Field Office and request an information packet on the Abandoned Grove Initiative. An agent will then visit your grove and verify the dead trees. The Tavares Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) office recently closed and grove owners in Orange, Marion, and Lake Counties now have to work through other offices. For Lake County contact Mr. David Falletta, 3027 Lake Alfred Road, Winter Haven, FL 33881, Phone: 863-298-3019. For Orange County contact Ms. Emelia Nunez, 8430 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 34981-4733, Phone: 772-778-5069. All counties may contact the Statewide Regulatory Director Mr. Mark Estes, 3027 Lake Alfred Road, Winter Haven, FL 33881, Phone: 863-298-3020.
2. Contact your local County Property Appraiser and verify their participation in the Abandoned Grove Program. Lake County Property Appraiser. Orange County Property Appraiser. Marion County Property Appraiser.
3. Destroy the citrus trees in abandoned, unmanaged, or diseased groves and call DPI for destruction verification and an Abandoned Grove Compliance Agreement. Do not push your trees until you have the agreement and a CHRP agent has visited your site. You should then have five years of agricultural tax exemption on the land to start another agricultural endeavor, whether it is replanting with more greening-tolerant citrus, livestock, forestry, or other approved agricultural enterprise.
For further information call 1-888-397-1517 or go to FreshFromFlorida.com/CHRP