Farm Bill to benefit local citrus farmers, vendors

Congressmen meet with local store owners

JUNO BEACH, Fla. -- Citrus greening has plagued local farmer's groves for years.
Now, there's hope that scientists could soon find a cure with more funding from the recently signed Farm Bill.

Local business owners hope a cure is found sooner than later as their businesses continue to struggle.

By the box, the bag or the bin, citrus in any quantity is what keeps Jimi Hayes employed.

But, after 15 years of working at TerMarsch Groves in Juno Beach, he says the last few years have been the most stressful, to say the least.

"It's hard to sleep sometimes," Hayes said.

He worries each day that there may not be enough healthy citrus coming in to stock the shelves. "We find ourselves running out of fruit," Hayes said.

This as citrus greening plagues the groves that the store buys from.

"We throw out a lot of fruit now and we didn't use to do that," Hayes said.

Hayes says before citrus greening was a problem, out of every 50 oranges, maybe only one would have to be tossed out.

Now, he says it's more like 30% to 40% of everything that comes in can't be sold.

With the passage of the Farm Bill, Hayes hopes that might change. "Now I'm starting to feel like maybe there's actually hope," Hayes said.

Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Tom Rooney met with store employees Saturday to talk about the Farm Bill, which will commit at least $125 million over five years to funding research for a cure.

"There's an orange on our license plate for Florida. If we don't have any more oranges, I guess we have to get a new license plate," Hayes said.

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