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
honeybees
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Webinar Series Highlights New Research on Honeybee Health
National Pollinator Week webinar showcases research to improve honeybee colony health by 2020. Read More
stack of lemons
Citrus
May 23, 2017
California Lemon Growers Sue USDA
Lemon industry files suit against rule allowing importation of Argentine lemons. Read More
Bee Vectoring Technologies experimental hives
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interesting Field Trips
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
Tango mandarin orange sliced in half
Varieties & Rootstocks
May 23, 2017
In Quest for Low-Seeded Citrus, It Takes Two to Tango
Momentum for viable mandarin hybrids for Florida reaching a peak in the land down under. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How to Dig Down Deep
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
seattle port shipping
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Ed Pines
Citrus Achievement Award
May 18, 2017
Meet the 2017 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award Winner
Cheers to Ed Pines for putting the positive back in citrus. Read More
Sugar Belle oranges
Varieties & Rootstocks
May 18, 2017
Unique Citrus Variety Standing Up to Deadly Disease
University of Florida researchers are peeling back the layers to find out what’s helping specific mandarin hybrid hold serve against HLB. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
First California Red Scale Aerosol Mating Disruption Product Approved
EPA, California officials grant Semios approval of pheromone pest control solution for widespread citrus problem. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
EPA Seeks States’ Input On Waters of the U.S. Rule
As the agency considers scaling back the water rule, states are asked to define protected waters. Read More
Orie Lee, 2015 Citrus Achievement Award winner
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Innovator Passes Away at 90
Orie Lee spent half his life cultivating the industry he cared deeply for. Read More
Burn ban sign posted along S.R. A1A in Flagler County, FL, due to drought conditions
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central Florida
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Citrus
May 11, 2017
Late Season Rally in Forecast for Florida Orange Crop
Latest estimate from USDA reveals first increase in several months; grapefruit continues to sour. Read More
Citrus
May 9, 2017
Barn Owls Can be an Effective Control for Rodents and Gophers
The predators are already getting results in vineyards and orchards. Research is showing they’re just as effective in vegetable and fruit fields. Read More
Citrus
May 5, 2017
USDA Angers California Lemon Growers
Industry leaders extremely disappointed by Argentine lemon rule. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 25, 2017
Are We Overstating the World’s Ove…
If growers can’t achieve a fair return on investment and stay in business, it won’t matter what the population is in 2050. We all will be trouble. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2017
Falcons Scare off Other Birds at Duncan …
It collaborates with a firm that uses trained falcons to intimidate and scare off nuisance birds such as the horned larks and pigeons that frequent the area. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Ag…
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Webinar Series Highlights New Research o…
National Pollinator Week webinar showcases research to improve honeybee colony health by 2020. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
California Lemon Growers Sue USDA
Lemon industry files suit against rule allowing importation of Argentine lemons. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Insects (Bad and Good) Make for Interest…
Disease-fighting bees and the deadly citrus psyllid were at the center of two recent, research-fueled out-of-office adventures. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How…
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
First California Red Scale Aerosol Matin…
EPA, California officials grant Semios approval of pheromone pest control solution for widespread citrus problem. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2017
EPA Seeks States’ Input On Waters of the…
As the agency considers scaling back the water rule, states are asked to define protected waters. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Florida Citrus Innovator Passes Away at …
Orie Lee spent half his life cultivating the industry he cared deeply for. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central…
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More
Citrus
May 11, 2017
Late Season Rally in Forecast for Florid…
Latest estimate from USDA reveals first increase in several months; grapefruit continues to sour. Read More
Citrus
May 9, 2017
Barn Owls Can be an Effective Control fo…
The predators are already getting results in vineyards and orchards. Research is showing they’re just as effective in vegetable and fruit fields. Read More
Citrus
May 5, 2017
USDA Angers California Lemon Growers
Industry leaders extremely disappointed by Argentine lemon rule. Read More
Citrus
April 29, 2017
Florida Ag Commissioner Pushes for Probe…
With a focus on Mexico, letter sent by Adam Putnam to the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary stresses need for level playing field. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2017
EPA Approves New Plant Growth Stimulant
RIO from Arysta LifeScience North America is labeled for use on citrus, vegetables, tree fruit, strawberries, grapes, and nuts. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2017
The California Citrus Grower Defines Lea…
While HLB wreaked havoc elsewhere, the California citrus industry came together and formed an action plan. Read More