In All Kinds of Weather, Florida Citrus Folk Stick Together

In All Kinds of Weather, Florida Citrus Folk Stick Together

Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks with states ag leaders about post-Irma procedures

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a nearly $22 million investment in the Florida citrus industry as part of his 2018-2019 budget.
Photo courtesy of FDOC

We’ll never be thrilled that Hurricane Irma visited the Sunshine State. Her presence was the big, scary monster we’ve all dreaded, and what she left behind was a vivid picture of humility. We’ll all remember her. But, this is where our story begins.

The Florida citrus industry has been waging a war for survival for years. In desperate times, our struggle was largely hidden, and as the agriculture industry often does, we were trying to solve problems independently and on our own. Sure, we were gathering scientists and policymakers to work with us, but the rest of the world really had no idea what danger we were experiencing in our groves with HLB.

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It’s not because folks didn’t care. It’s just that the visual of the devastation of greening is not the same as the real-life grower photos and videos of twisted tree root systems and carpets of fallen fruit. As disheartening and depressing as those mangled groves were for growers to discover, as difficult as it was for us to all realize our anticipation of a much-needed “good” year was gone, those real, tangible, visual impacts brought something we didn’t expect — Florida citrus champions.

They’ve been there all along, but the stories of storm-ravaged citrus growers gave them a new opportunity to learn what has been happening with their old friend. It gave us a moment to catch up and talk about the challenges we’ve been facing for some time but weren’t really leading with at reunions and receptions.

We took the blow, and then took a minute to figure out the next step, and people around the globe watched to see what that was. Recovery is the obvious answer, because we would never consider anything else. Consumers, policymakers, and news media would never believe we could do anything but recover because that would mean the end of a great, American icon, and farmers just don’t let that happen. They gather, they create a plan, and they march shoulder to shoulder to do what needs to be done.

This is not our first disease or hurricane. We roll the dice with every new season and every new tree planted. Our favorite days are the days we are walking through rows of beautiful trees covered in bloom, and sharing the story of how we helped that happen. We’re tough, but just sentimental enough to never give up. Are we vulnerable to Mother Nature? Yes. Delicate? No. And our fans love to know we will do whatever it takes to keep the world’s best citrus in their hands.

Our message is unified — Florida citrus is not going away. We may need help today, but we have what it takes to put this all back together if you get behind us. Just watch.