For Florida Citrus Growers, There Is Reason To Be Optimistic

Mike Sparks_FCMThe Florida citrus industry received a shot of good news recently when the Farm Bill was signed into law by President Obama. The measure contains $125 million in mandatory funding over the next five years for citrus research.
Mutual lobbied to obtain the funding for almost four years, so to say we are excited and relieved is an understatement. Its inclusion in the Farm Bill was truly a team effort by the Florida citrus industry and the members of our Congressional delegation. The bipartisan support was nothing short of miraculous. All should be thanked for their tireless work on our behalf.

The focus now is efficiently getting the funding to deserving proposals. The work to create a streamlined infrastructure incorporating grower stakeholders is well under way. Although money alone can’t solve the HLB puzzle, the creation of a dedicated source of funding gives me a renewed sense of optimism. I hope others feel it as well. I’m going to go into cheerleader mode here for a minute; spare me the pom poms though.

Still A Giant

Despite battling our old nemesis greening for eight years, Florida citrus remains a powerful economic engine contributing $9 billion annually and 76,000 jobs to the state’s economy. We still cover 525,000 acres, dwarfing any other agricultural endeavor in the state. Citrus forms the backbone of many communities throughout the state’s interior. Take a drive down Highway 27 sometime if you want proof. Citrus not only directly supports processing plants and packinghouses, but also ancillary businesses such as banks, truck dealerships, plant nutrition companies, restaurants, and equipment stores. These businesses would have a hard time surviving if not for citrus.
Plus, citrus health management areas (CHMAs) are working. Every report I’ve seen in the past six months by the folks at FDACS say when growers work together to suppress the psyllid they get extraordinary results. If you are not in an active CHMA, you need to get in one. Anything less is a disservice to our industry.

There is some confidence among growers, too. Re-plantings are rebounding, and although production costs are way up, growing citrus can still be profitable at today’s prices. There are several rootstock varieties out there that have shown a resistance to HLB. Thanks to the state legislative appropriations over the past two years, we now have a world-class germplasm and budwood facilities to support the expansion of Florida citrus.

Can-Doers

Researchers are making headway toward greening solutions. Antimicrobials are showing promise and we expect one to get approval for commercial use soon. Heat therapy also is getting results on infected trees. So much so, that many growers, particularly on the East Coast and in the northern areas are already engineering tents to implement their own heat programs. What’s great about it is heating your trees doesn’t require any sort of regulatory approval. You can hit the ground running. That’s exactly the can-do spirit I’m talking about.
Growers are proud to produce products that support the economy, taste good, and are good for you. As you know, many citrus families have done it for three, four, and five generations all while facing a number of crises including drought, freezes, hurricanes, and disease. Each time, the irrepressible spirit of citrus farmers forged ahead allowing the industry to survive and ultimately thrive. We will do the same with citrus greening.

Topics: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Program
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
CitrusFDA, Federal Partners Develop New Method For Attributing Foodborne Illness
February 25, 2015
Data was analyzed from nearly 1,000 outbreaks to assess which categories of foods were most responsible for making people sick. Read More
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient Deficiencies
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
CitrusPacked Political Agenda On Tap For Florida Farmers
February 23, 2015
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors are working on a number of key issues that will be front-burner throughout 2015. Read More
CitrusWest Coast Governors Call For End To Port Labor Impasse
February 19, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez helps mediate discussions between dockworkers and port operators. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
The Latest
CitrusNew Marvel Comic Book Reveals Origin Of Captain Citrus
March 5, 2015
Second installment of the Avengers Assemble series sets the stage for a new hero to save an orange grove under attack. Read More
Citrus18 Must-Have Apps For GenNext Growers
March 1, 2015
We asked about your favorite mobile applications, and here's what you had to say. Read More
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Progr…
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
CitrusFDA, Federal Partners Develop New Method For Attributin…
February 25, 2015
Data was analyzed from nearly 1,000 outbreaks to assess which categories of foods were most responsible for making people sick. Read More
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient …
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
CitrusPacked Political Agenda On Tap For Florida Farmers
February 23, 2015
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors are working on a number of key issues that will be front-burner throughout 2015. Read More
CitrusWest Coast Governors Call For End To Port Labor Impasse
February 19, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez helps mediate discussions between dockworkers and port operators. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
CitrusNew Desalination Technology May Be The Answer To Califo…
February 18, 2015
Researchers plan to address concerns with a process that will examine ways to turn seawater into drinkable water. Read More
David Holden
CitrusBiopesticides, Biostimulants Show Results In Fruits And…
February 18, 2015
From biostimulants in celery and avocado to biopesticides in citrus and strawberries, consultant David Holden conducts in-the-field research that attests to the effectiveness of biocontrols. Read More
CitrusMegadrought In The West Predicted By End Of The Century
February 18, 2015
Lowering greenhouse gases will reduce risk, scientists say. Read More
CitrusIRS Change Could Pay Off In More Citrus Plantings
February 17, 2015
Florida Citrus Mutual is pushing a proposal forward that will allow growers to directly write off putting new trees in the ground. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Poised For A Comeback
February 12, 2015
About halfway through the 2014-2015 season, and the crop could go either way. Read More
CitrusTier 4 Regulations Pique Propane Interest
February 12, 2015
New rules are extending to non-road applications like irrigation engines. Read More
CitrusSearch Is On For The Next Miss Florida Citrus
February 11, 2015
Pre-Miss America pageant makes its return offering contestants a chance to represent the industry and further their education. Read More
CitrusIs The ‘Agripocalypse’ Nearing? [Opinion]
February 10, 2015
Recent report indicates time is not on agriculture's side. Action is needed now to keep future growers engaged. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Crop Holding On
February 10, 2015
Updated USDA forecast shows no change in orange and grapefruit yield. Read More