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TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced Dec. 9 that the Florida citrus industry has overwhelmingly voted to continue funding a self-imposed tax to conduct important research for another six years.

Consensus was reached through a statewide referendum that concluded Dec. 9.

The citrus research order continuation was also amended to increase the industry's self-imposed tax to a maximum of 3 cents per box, and to establish the Citrus Research & Development Foundation as the research advisory council to the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

The department circulated ballots in late November to citrus producers statewide.

"The response was unprecedented," Mr. Bronson said in a Dec. 9 press release. "Almost twice as many growers participated in this vote than in 2004. I believe this clearly demonstrates the industry's concern and commitment to combating citrus diseases."

Under Chapter 573 of the Florida Statutes, a referendum must win approval of 65 percent of those voting and must represent 51 percent of the voting acreage. The actual results markedly surpassed the requirements.

Since 1992, the box tax has generated more than $25 million for research aimed at eradicating citrus pests and diseases, and improving varieties and management practices.

The results of the referendum are as follows: Number of growers voting yes: 1,166; number of growers voting no: 363. Percentage of growers voting yes: 76 percent; percentage of growers voting no: 24 percent. Acreage represented by yes vote: 363,094; acreage represented by no vote: 53,577. Percentage of acreage represented by yes vote: 87 percent; percentage of acreage represented by no vote: 13 percent.