Florida Citrus Industry Girds For A Pretty Tight Squeeze

Doug_Ackerman_FDOCI am a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, but my inspiration for this column comes from a story in which the Navy plays a prominent role. That should give you some insight into how important I think this story is.
The headline is inspired by the legendary World War II aviator, Lt. Colonel James H. Doolittle, who famously told his band of volunteers as they prepared for departure on a daredevil mission, “It’s going to be a pretty tight squeeze…”

As the No. 1 fan of Florida citrus, I perk up any time I hear the word “squeeze,” because, along with words like “plant” and “grow” and “pick” and “sell” and “drink,” it is one of the verbs that defines our industry. But Doolittle’s vision has even more relevance for our industry than his invocation of one of our favorite words.

In spring 1942, as the nation reeled from the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, Doolittle was tasked with leading a daring raid on Tokyo, utilizing B-25s — medium-range bombers designed for the Army’s ground-to-ground missions. Doolittle’s mission, however, would require his team of courageous airmen to launch their attacks from the deck of the Hornet, a U.S. Navy carrier.
He trained his team, “Doolittle’s Raiders,” right here in Florida, at Eglin Field.
In order to enable the Raiders’ heavy, powerful aircraft to take off from such an ocean runway, Doolittle directed that everything non-essential be stripped away from the aircraft. He knew the planes would need more than 1,000 pounds of fuel and 2,000 pounds of bombs for the mission; any excess weight was an impediment to getting airborne from the Hornet’s short runways.
And, in one of the more dramatic moments of a war filled with them, at the last minute, the mission was forced to launch from a distance almost twice as far from the target as originally planned. Thus, every pound of fuel was even more precious. There were no “creature comforts” on those stripped-down bombers as they commenced their journeys toward Tokyo on April 18, 1942 — the original “tight squeeze.”

Epic Struggle

Today, the Florida citrus industry is engaged in its own epic struggle. We were surprised not by enemy bombers, but also by another sort of destruction that arrived via airborne transmission.
Like our nation in 1942, we are down, but we are not out.
As surely as Doolittle and his men knew that success was the only option, the Florida Department of Citrus, mirroring the resolve of growers across our great state, plans on winning this fight.
To get where we need to go, we — like Doolittle’s Raiders and the very industry we serve — must remain focused on essentials.
In the months to come, you will see continued evidence we are stripping away everything that isn’t mission-critical as we add fuel and firepower. Put another way: Programs that made sense when we were selling 240 million boxes may not make sense now.
The rest of Doolittle’s quote is perfect for our time. “It’s going to be a pretty tight squeeze,” he said, “But it’s all been worked out the best possible way.”

Plans For The Long Haul

Our priorities are clear. We know where we have to get, and we are loading up for the long haul — and for victory.
In the months ahead, I look forward to sharing details of the steps we are taking at the direction of the Florida Citrus Commission to be the best possible stewards of our industry’s legacy and to add the next exciting chapter. Among the changes you’ll notice are:

  • A realignment of our agency partnerships, to ensure we are utilizing those important resources efficiently and maximizing their impact;
  • Shifting additional resources into the Department’s own public relations programs;
  • Re-energized partnerships in the retail and foodservice space;
  • New staff members in key industry-facing positions; and
  • A refocused digital footprint.

We have a long way to go, but we have the pilots and the planes to get there.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Florida Farmworkers
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Neo 1 hops at UF/IFAS MREC
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Winter melon damage from Hurricane Irma in Elkton, FL
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers Dealing With Disaster
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Packinghouse damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biological Control
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Talking
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Florida oranges
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Calling For Sunshine
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Growers
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Insect & Disease Update
August 28, 2017
California Extends Citrus Quarantine
A 94-square mile area of San Bernardino, Riverside counties now a part of state huanglongbing quarantine. Read More
Strawberry fieldworker in Florida
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Negotiate NAFTA Now
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light to Cultivate Medicinal Cannabis
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Flori…
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Biocontrols Conference
September 11, 2017
The Grower’s Take: Citrus, HLB, and Biol…
Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice brand has enjoyed steady growth since its 2002 inception. The brand’s success is due to Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Ta…
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon …
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Citrus
August 31, 2017
Extra Early Florida Citrus Forecast Call…
Marked increase in production predicted for the next crop of oranges. Read More
Citrus
August 30, 2017
How Harvey May Impact Specialty Crop Gro…
The devastating human toll from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has rightly dominated news coverage. Growers and those who work with them, however, should also think about how this historic storm will also affect them.  Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
Specialty Crop Concern Feeds Need to Neg…
Although trade talk objectives may not deliver the short-term relief for Florida fruit and vegetable growers, they appear on the right track. Read More
Citrus
August 28, 2017
3 More Florida Growers Given Green Light…
Once exclusive enterprise continues to expand for more seeking to engage alternative crop endeavor. Read More
Citrus
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Ope…
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
Citrus
August 25, 2017
Transcending Farm Labor Crisis No Easy T…
Technology could be on cusp of fixing labor problems for growers of crops that are traditionally hand harvested. Read More