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
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipment In Upcoming Auction
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emergency Drought Relief Act
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The Produce Rule
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Education Center
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mandates
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Growing Licenses
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
The Latest
CitrusResearchers Say Drones Will Play A Major Role In Farmin…
August 4, 2015
Texas A&M AgriLife researchers say the technology will offer growers precise information about their crops. Read More
woman smashing an alarm clock with a hammer
CitrusDon’t Become A Time Crunch Casualty
July 31, 2015
Finding the balance between work life and home life is easier said than done for GenNext Growers. Read More
money
CitrusBankrupt Florida Farm To Yield Plenty Of Land, Equipmen…
July 30, 2015
As many as seven different buyers could be part of this Chapter 11 proceeding. Read More
CitrusWestern Growers Praises Introduction Of California Emer…
July 30, 2015
Legislation contains short- and long-term provisions to deal with the historic drought. Read More
CitrusGroup Food Safety Audits May Help Prepare You For The P…
July 29, 2015
Group food safety audits, slated to be available next spring, may save small- to mid-size growers time and money. Read More
CitrusNew Director Named For Florida’s Citrus Research And Ed…
July 28, 2015
Michael Rogers takes a positive charge at finding solutions to greening. Read More
Washington Capitol building
CitrusHouse Passes Bill To Block State GMO Food Labeling Mand…
July 27, 2015
The legislation would offer a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods containing GMOs.   Read More
Citrus2 Dozen Florida Nurseries Vying For Coveted Cannabis Gr…
July 27, 2015
With only five spots available to produce the low-THC ‘Charlotte’s Web’ strain, tedious review process is in full swing. Read More
CitrusUSDA Expands Crop Insurance Options For Fruit And Nut G…
July 24, 2015
The USDA announced the expansion of crop insurance to provide additional options for fruit and nut producers. The Supplemental Coverage Read More
FFVA 2015 Annual Convention logo
CitrusFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Annual Conven…
July 23, 2015
Association's 72nd gathering to feature high-profile speakers, up-to-the-minute Issues Forums, and some fun to mix in with the business of the day. Read More
CitrusMarketing Order Amendments Referendum Set For Fresh Flo…
July 22, 2015
Changes include the authorization and regulation of new varieties. Read More
Shannon Shepp
CitrusInterim Executive Director Named For Florida Department…
July 22, 2015
Shannon Shepp will take on leadership duties immediately after unanimous Citrus Commission vote. Read More
CitrusInternational Report Confirms 2014 As Earth’s Warmest Y…
July 21, 2015
Scientific compilation notes climate markers continue to show global warming trend. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
CitrusGMO Labeling Battle Moves To House Floor
July 21, 2015
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 was passed by the Agriculture Committee last week and will head Read More
Doug Ackerman
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Executive Director Resigns
July 21, 2015
Doug Ackerman steps down after traffic incident. Read More
CitrusWOTUS Wranglings Leaving Agriculture High And Dry [Opin…
July 17, 2015
In late May, the EPA announced the highly anticipated final rule re-defining the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under Read More
man expressing opinion through bullhorn
CitrusStay Opinionated, My Farmer Friends
July 15, 2015
How far are you willing to go to defend your beliefs? Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Water Managers Keeping Close Eye On Dry C…
July 15, 2015
Traditional wet season has been anything but so far as certain parts of the region now experiencing “extreme drought.” Read More