In October, the Florida Citrus Commission unanimously approved a Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC) budget that reflects a decrease of nearly 30% over last year, and an estimated $12 million tax cut for growers. Commissioners also approved using carryover from last year’s budget to provide more temporary tax relief to growers for one season. At the end of the day, the rates were set at 5 cents for fresh oranges and 7 cents for every other variety, fresh and processed.
These numbers are a severe departure from decades of heavily-funded traditional advertising and research programs, which might lead some to ask what the FDOC can now do with the resources available.
Greening has forever altered the way our industry does business and the way we use our collective resources. Today, the industry’s first mission must be to find the ultimate coping mechanism to survive with HLB, but there are many other priorities down the line that require serious conversations with consumers, influencers, and the media.
We live in an era of overwhelming information sources, a curious populous, and palpable distrust in the food arena. When it comes to orange juice, there are many views on its sugar content, nutritional benefits, the role it plays in a healthy diet — some based in facts and others not so much. That’s why we work daily to debunk the myths and educate when needed.
When it comes to greening, however, we have an opportunity we haven’t had before. This disease that’s so familiar to us is largely unknown outside the citrus industry — as are its potential solutions. Now is the time to step in and own our own story. And the FDOC is uniquely positioned to do just that.
But we can’t do it alone. Through regular engagement with experts in the fields of science, nutrition, and technology, we are able to provide consumers with the facts and figures necessary to tell the story. At the same time — and this is key — those of you actively working to preserve generations of Florida citrus groves help impart the emotional toll greening has taken and add context to the sterile picture numbers alone often paint.
At the FDOC, we take to heart the saying, “achievement is often anonymous.” Working behind the scenes, we act as a bridge to the right people, and supporting those who should be in the spotlight with information, coordination, planning, and, frankly, a second set of eyes and ears. At the end of the day, the goal is to connect consumers with the people they want to hear from most and be a reliable resource for those seeking information.
We all have roles in the success of Florida citrus. Industry associations, researchers, growers: We all own a piece of the story. The FDOC’s role today is to put the pieces together.
If you would like to be part of the Florida citrus story or know someone seeking more information, contact Shelley Rossetter, Public Relations Manager, at 863-537-3971 or at [email protected].