In the coming months, Florida Grower’s Citrus Achievement Award winner Peter McClure will address important issues of the day. This month, he addresses the recent petition by Florida Citrus Mutual that a Brazilian OJ processor is dumping juice on the U.S. market.
Peter McClure: “Our natural, visceral instinct is to not partner up with a competitor on anything. We like to fight our competitors, be it the juice market with Brazil, or the fresh market with California. In the market place, that can be a healthy thing.
“The psyllid and the liberibacter that causes HLB knows no borders. They kill your citrus trees wherever they find them. HLB is ruthless biology. Since HLB has the ability to conquer us all indiscriminately, it behooves us to work together to defeat it. Disease research is a separate arena from the marketplace.
“We have to protect our marketplace from illegal trade activity. The HLB battle is extremely expensive and without a market price that not only supports that fight, but also supports everything else we have to do to grow, harvest, pack, process, and market citrus for a profit, we are also out of business. The division of grower dollars to support our marketplace and to also support a sustainable research and development program needs to be debated and decided within our industry. We have to have a rational division of grower-generated dollars for uses between marketing and research and development.
“The HLB pandemic is a direct result of a lack of investment in disease research (coupled with our research institutions losing focus on their fundamental original purpose) and it is now costing us hundreds of millions of dollars, and threatens the very existence of our industry.
“Along with pests and diseases, economics, illegal trade practices, and new governmental regulatory mandates from local, state, and federal agencies also threatening the existence of our industry. There are lots of monsters to fight.”