Black Discusses New CRDF Chief Operations Officer

Larry Black

Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) President Larry Black discusses the organization’s recent selection of Winter Haven attorney and former state legislator Rick Dantzler as chief operations officer.

“Rick wasn’t part of the original candidate pool, but his name emerged in recent weeks as a strong candidate, a good leader,” Black says. “He had a great track record as the state director of the FSA (U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency), really made some positive changes there. At CRDF, we’re really looking for a strong leader, a good administrator.” Black notes that CRDF’s goal is “to get the best projects funded around the state and around the country to solve this awful disease (HLB) we’re dealing with.”

Black responds to Dantzler’s acknowledgement that he is not a scientist. “At the end of the day, CRDF is a funding agency,” Black says. “We’re charged with identifying the best projects … and (to) fund those projects to accelerate solutions to the field. So we don’t have to have a scientist as our leader. We need some scientific capacity, but we can add that around Rick with support staff.”

Dantzler will become chief operations officer on Aug. 15 and plans to meet that day with many growers at Citrus Expo in North Fort Myers. He will succeed John Arthington, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences administrator who has served several months as interim chief operations officer.

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large