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
Sunkist organic lemons being harvested at the Donlon Ranch in Ventura County, CA by Jane and Ned Donlon, 5th and 6th generation growers, respectively.
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Sunkist Expands Organic Portfolio
With the organic citrus sector growing three times as fast as conventional, the 123-year-old cooperative is keeping up with the times. Read More
money
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Syngenta OKs Buyout By ChemChina
Deal valued at more than $43 billion; Syngenta management team to stay intact. Read More
Flooded vegetable field in South Florida
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Historic Rainfall Hampering South Florida Farms
El Niño express delivering floods, uncertainty for crops. Read More
Rainy welcome at 2016 Florida Citrus Show
Citrus
February 1, 2016
Growers, Industry Leaders Weather The Storm At 2016 Florida Citrus Show
Not even an El Niño-fueled, two-day soaker can keep a flood of attendees from the annual gathering. Read More
A female Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis shown here is one wasp that specifically targets the Asian citrus psyllid. (Photo credit: Mike Lewis, CISR, UC-Riverside.)
Insect & Disease Update
January 29, 2016
Biology Meets Asian Citrus Psyllid Control
A team of researchers is studying two targeted parasitoid wasps to help prevent the spread of Asian citrus psyllid in the state. Read More
Asian citrus psyllid
Insect & Disease Update
January 25, 2016
Asian Citrus Psyllid Quarantine Area In California Expanded Again
A zone of nearly 100 square miles has been declared in Fresno County following new detection. Read More
Guy in suit under the water
Citrus
January 23, 2016
Too Much Cheerleading Has EPA In Deep Water [Opinion]
These days, far too often, elected representatives of the people are abdicating their responsibilities to federal agencies. The result is rules like WOTUS. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 9, 2016
Revised Forecast Yields Small Victory Fo…
Updated USDA estimate holds serve again; hasn’t dipped since December. Read More
Citrus
February 4, 2016
Can Olive Oil Grease Skids For Florida’s…
Researchers, interested growers help launch new industry. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Sunkist Expands Organic Portfolio
With the organic citrus sector growing three times as fast as conventional, the 123-year-old cooperative is keeping up with the times. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Syngenta OKs Buyout By ChemChina
Deal valued at more than $43 billion; Syngenta management team to stay intact. Read More
Citrus
February 3, 2016
Historic Rainfall Hampering South Florid…
El Niño express delivering floods, uncertainty for crops. Read More
Citrus
February 1, 2016
Growers, Industry Leaders Weather The St…
Not even an El Niño-fueled, two-day soaker can keep a flood of attendees from the annual gathering. Read More
Citrus
January 23, 2016
Too Much Cheerleading Has EPA In Deep Wa…
These days, far too often, elected representatives of the people are abdicating their responsibilities to federal agencies. The result is rules like WOTUS. Read More
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Wa…
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned I…
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2016
Agriculture Agents Intercept Invasive Be…
Notorious wood borer hitched a ride in a container of cucumbers arriving from Costa Rica. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Fo…
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2016
Let’s Raise A Glass To FloridaR…
Challenges with unique solutions are needed to make the agriculture sector stronger. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2016
Farming Fertility Practices Evolving Wit…
Improving water quality while maintaining production is being achieved in American agriculture. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2016
3 Products To Better Serve Your Soil
Check out a sampling of the latest soil health enhancers. Read More
Citrus
January 15, 2016
Emphasis On Soil Health Moving Growers T…
There are benefits to be gained by taking care of what lies beneath. Read More
Citrus
January 15, 2016
Port Tampa Bay Embarks On Big Plans To M…
Opportunities for growers abound as the Panama Canal doubles its capacity. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2016
Florida Legislature Passes Key Water Pol…
Legislation set up to preserve and restore the state’s water and natural resources for future generations. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2016
American Farm Bureau Elects New Presiden…
Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall to take leadership reins from retiring Bob Stallman. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]