As California citrus growers continue to invest in needed research to aid the state’s more than $2 billion citrus industry and battle threats like the Asian citrus psyllid, citrus industry veteran Ken Keck will join the California Citrus Research Board (CRB) as its new president on June 1.
Keck brings deep industry knowledge — including experience in fighting the Asian citrus psyllid and HLB or citrus greening in Florida — having served as general counsel and executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus from 2006-2012. Prior to that, he served as the organization’s director of government affairs and general counsel from 2002-2006, and director of legislative and regulatory affairs with Florida Citrus Mutual from 1999-2002. Having served in these roles, Keck has deep-rooted expertise representing citrus growers in a governmental, legal, and regulatory framework.
Keck will replace Ted Batkin, who served as the organization’s president since 1993 and who will retire from this role in September. Under Batkin’s leadership, the organization increased its research investment to a current level of more than $5 million. The primary focus of the program is detection of HLB disease and vector management of the Asian citrus psyllid.
“We thank Ted for his tremendous leadership and efforts on behalf of California citrus growers,” said Earl Rutz, chairman of the CRB. “And while there are big shoes to fill, we believe Ken’s track record, enthusiasm and alignment with the perspective of California growers will make him an excellent asset to the CRB.”
“I am a third-generation grower in Florida, so I know the nature of the business,” said Keck. “I know what it means to depend on the harvest each year. I know what it feels like to have your livelihood threatened, and I want to use this understanding — and my experiences in Florida — to benefit the California industry.”