Updates From Florida Citrus Mutual

Jim Rogers Florida Citrus Mutual

The Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) board of directors voted earlier this month to support the continuation of the Florida Research Order. It encouraged Florida citrus growers to vote for continuation in a May referendum. The board acted after hearing from Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) Chief Operating Officer Rick Dantzler and discussing the importance of a continued funding mechanism for focused research. The Florida Research Order provides for CRDF funding via a grower assessment.

Florida Citrus Mutual

The board also heard discussions about the recent Florida legislative session and efforts to help the industry cope with reduced orange Brix levels.

Florida Sen. Ben Albritton’s discussion of the legislative session focused on best management practices and the Citrus Recovery Act legislation. He also shared his optimism about continued support of Florida’s citrus industry at the state level. 

Newly appointed FCM Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President (CEO/EVP) Matt Joyner discussed budget wins for the citrus industry during the legislative session. He said legislative funding for the industry represents an 81 cents-per-box cost saving for Florida citrus growers. All funding is contingent upon Gov. Ron DeSantis signing the budget. 

Former FCM CEO/EVP Mike Sparks updated efforts to have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revise the standards for pasteurized orange juice in the face of reduced Brix across the industry. This is an ongoing issue that Mutual and its partners continue to address. The problem is that the federal standard of identity for not-from-concentrate orange juice (NFC OJ) requires a minimum Brix of 10.5, but most Florida oranges aren’t achieving that Brix level. According to FCM, the season’s average Brix for Florida oranges through March of this year was only 9.9.  

Florida Citrus Processors Association Executive Director Kristen Carlson discussed the effort to update orange juice standards. She said a petition being prepared for the FDA would, among other things, ask that the required Brix level for NFC OJ be reduced from 10.5 to 10.0.

Source: Florida Citrus Mutual

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