Several growers recently asked the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association (HCCGA) if they need to sign a Grower/Caretaker Compliance Agreement (CA) they received from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
HCCGA Executive Director Ray Royce’s answer is essentially yes. He says state law requires all citrus growers and caretakers of 40 or more trees to sign a FDACS Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) Grower/Caretaker Compliance Agreement. “Technically, you must have a current CA on file with DPI (FDACS Division of Plant Industry) in order to be issued a CA number which you need for inclusion on any ‘trip tickets’ associated with the movement of fruit off of your property,” Royce states.
According to Royce, there could be several reasons growers are receiving notice that they need to sign such a CA. “Perhaps you have never signed one at all,” he stated. He offered several other possibilities, including that growers have an older CA version on file, and FDACS DPI is trying to get all citrus-related entities to sign the newer version.
“From a grower’s standpoint, having the 2017 revised CA (the one they are asking growers to update to) on file is advantageous due to some changes in the language pertaining to most decontamination protocol requirements,” Royce added.
The CA has two sections, one for general requirements and one for grove operations in citrus black spot quarantines, according to Royce. There are also additional requirements in the CA if growers are shipping fresh fruit to the European Union due to trade agreement stipulations.
“There has been some confusion since many growers perceive that the citrus heath management areas (CHMAs) program has been discontinued for the most part – especially in areas like Highlands County,” Royce stated. “While CHMAs may no longer be active, the CHRP program is still very much in force and is the conduit that provides very significant federal funding for citrus research and pest scouting.” Until a few years ago, CHMAs were considered extremely important in the control of Asian citrus psyllids and HLB; learn more here.
“To be very clear, having a current CA on file has nothing to do with the implementation or audit of FDACS’ best management practices,” Royce concluded. He urged HCCGA members with questions about the CA to contact him or DPI officials [Jason Johnson (863-232-6650) or Callie Walker (863-271-3766)] for Highlands County.
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