Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried delivered the keynote address at the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Lakeland on March 6. She also discussed citrus issues with Citrus Industry magazine editor Tacy Callies.
Fried says the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), which she directs, is working with the state Legislature on a variety of budget issues. She says FDACS is “constantly having to ensure” it has enough funding to deal with citrus issues including HLB and to operate the Fresh From Florida program.
Current extremely low spot prices for juice oranges and foreign juice imports continue to be top concerns for her department. Fried notes that FDACS is opposed to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“While we are unable to get actual changes inside USMCA for seasonal exemptions, we have received confirmation … that we’re going to be doing tours across the state of Florida (see more on a hearing scheduled for April 7) and we’re going to be lockstep with Citrus Mutual as well as FFVA (Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association) to make sure that the seasonal producers are at the forefront of these conversations,” Fried says. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get some exemptions and some other type of protections for our seasonal growers.”
“I am so inspired by all of our (citrus) producers and what they have had to endure,” including dealing with greening, canker, exports, imports, hurricanes and freezes. “They are the most resilient group of producers that I have met across the state of Florida,” she concludes.
Hear more from Fried:
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