The grower assessment to help fund Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) programs will remain at 3 cents per box for the 2020-21 season. CRDF directors, sitting June 23 as the Box Tax Advisory Council, approved the assessment on commercial citrus grown in Florida.
“We don’t take for granted that we’re entitled to that money,” CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler said. He added that the organization works hard to earn the grower funding annually.
The CRDF directors also heard updates on requests for citrus nutrition research and payments to growers for the Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program.
CRDF in recent months received 16 pre-proposals for very specific citrus nutrition research. Dantzler said advisory panels recommended asking the researchers who made 10 of the pre-proposals to make more complete proposals for funding. This year, CRDF focused on seeking proposals that will answer Florida growers’ questions about nutrition, especially related to HLB. The total requested funding for the 10 nutrition pre-proposals is $4.38 million over three years of research.
Dantzler reported that 19 growers participating in the CRAFT program won’t be able to plant trees by a previously set deadline of June 30 because they’ve been unable to get trees from nurseries. He said he and CRAFT Foundation Executive Director Kristen Carlson agreed that those growers should be paid for participating, but only after their trees are planted. The program provides substantial funding to growers making plantings used to determine the efficacy of various HLB treatments. The state and federal governments fund the CRAFT program; state funding comes in part through CRDF. Learn more about grower participation in CRAFT.
One CRDF director asked about a previous effort to hire a research director to oversee the numerous projects the organization funds. Dantzler said the group decided not to hire a full-time director in large part because research leadership is being handled well with contracted scientists. They are retired University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers Jim Graham and Jim Syvertsen and retired citrus Extension agent Steve Futch. Dantzler reported those contractors cost CRDF about $105,000 per year, versus the projected $150,000 cost of a full-time director.
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