The Citrus Research and Development Foundation’s (CRDF) board of directors on June 22 approved a 3-cents-per-box tax on Florida growers’ fruit to help fund operations for the coming year. This was the sixth year in a row the CRDF tax has been at that rate.
“We feel like we have to earn it (the tax) every year,” said CRDF Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler. “And as hard as we’ve been working, we understand that the record is mixed. But we just don’t feel like we can take our foot off the gas pedal right now.”
CRDF also receives funding from other sources, including appropriations from the Florida Legislature. At the June 22 meeting, State Sen. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula citrus grower, met with the CRDF board to discuss funding and citrus industry organizational matters.
“I think it is safe to say that changes are in the air,” Dantzler said. “Sen. Albritton, like all growers, is frustrated … My take is that the entire citrus industry is being reviewed by policymakers to make sure that the organizations that are charged with saving the industry are doing all they can to make sure that we are in fact carrying out that job well.” Dantzler said the review includes all citrus organizations that receive funding from the Legislature. That would include CRDF, the Florida Department of Citrus and possibly New Varieties Development and Management Corp., Dantzler said.
When CRDF asks scientists to submit proposals for research projects, most of the proposals received come from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). “There are some on the board that believe that we need to be more aggressive in pursuing research proposals from other institutions and other parts of the country,” Dantzler said.
In response to those concerns, Dantzler said CRDF will “cast a wider net when we solicit research proposals. We already send notice of our RFPs (request for proposals) to hundreds of researchers from across the country, but I’m sure that list could be expanded.” He said the organization is also considering other ways to address board members’ concerns.