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
Photo credit: USDA
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyphosate Not Carcinogenic
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Food safety meeting for growers in Florida
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On Front Burner
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Participants of a Citrus Health Roundtable hosted by Yara International pose for a post-event photo.
Insect & Disease Update
May 20, 2016
Yara International Pledges $100,000 To Support Florida Agriculture Students
Scholarship will fund University of Florida undergraduate and graduate students. Read More
South Florida farmland
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For Institutional Investors
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
close-up of a merge ahead traffic sign
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
(Photo credit: USDA)
Citrus
May 17, 2016
$130 Million In Funds For Fruit And Vegetable Education And Research
USDA allocates funds for Extension, organic production, food safety, and technology grants. Read More
wine bottles
Citrus
May 17, 2016
Border Protection Intercepts New Leafhopper In Wine Shipment
First of its kind found in European shipment. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat …
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human …
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-T…
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyph…
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On F…
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For I…
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
$130 Million In Funds For Fruit And Vege…
USDA allocates funds for Extension, organic production, food safety, and technology grants. Read More
Citrus
May 17, 2016
Border Protection Intercepts New Leafhop…
First of its kind found in European shipment. Read More
Citrus
May 16, 2016
3 New Herbicides For Florida Farmers To …
Trio of unique crop protection chemistries beckoning growers to whack weeds with these. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
California Citrus Industry Leaders Slam …
Proposal “defies logic,” because growers are already worried about being ravaged by citrus greening, says California Citrus Mutual. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
Winning Streak Continues For Florida Ora…
Updated crop estimate from USDA reveals uptick for third month in a row. Read More
Citrus
May 10, 2016
Survey: Beekeepers Lost 44% Of Bees Last…
Responses indicate summer losses rival winter losses for second year in a row. Read More
Citrus
May 4, 2016
$6 Million Available For Antimicrobial R…
Program to develop strategies to reduce public health risks in food chain. Read More
Citrus
May 3, 2016
New Program Targets Abandoned California…
Bayer and California Citrus Mutual have teamed up to help protect the state’s commercial citrus industry from deadly citrus greening. Read More
Citrus
May 2, 2016
As Hurricane Season Nears, South Florida…
All basins around the region experience rainfall deficits during April as totals fall far below average. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]