By Danielle Leal
The 2023 California Citrus Conference in Visalia proved collaboration is pivotal when tackling industry issues. The conference, hosted by California’s Citrus Research Board, had a lineup of industry leaders, researchers and others who updated growers on California’s citrus industry.
Casey Creamer, president and chief executive officer of California Citrus Mutual, spoke on strengthening the connection between research and advocacy. He touched on several areas of progress within the past year, including pesticides, HLB coordination, enforcement of grapefruit juice maturity standards, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Research Service breeding program and the 2023 farm bill.
In discussing the farm bill and industry needs from a national standpoint, Creamer said cohesiveness and collaboration are keys to getting the job done. “There are so many issues in Congress with the farm bill and the different commodities. If you have differences within a commodity, it’s very difficult to get anything done. So, you have to come to Congress with solutions,” Creamer said. “I know we’ve got lots of problems. The more you can identify those problems and identify solutions to address those problems in a collaborative fashion, it doesn’t guarantee victory, but your odds of success are much better.”
That’s particularly true when it comes to research and funding for HLB and Asian citrus psyllid mitigation. Creamer said it’s essential for California Citrus Mutual to work with its partners in Florida and Texas. “We have different growing conditions, different needs and different priorities. We’re fresh, and Florida is juice predominately, but at the end of the day, we’re one citrus industry and we’re more effective when we work together.”
Created under the farm bill’s Title 12 is the Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund. The fund authorizes $25 million per year to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for citrus disease research. That amounts to $125 million for the life of the farm bill. During the five years, a citrus disease subcommittee made up of members from federal agencies, state departments of agriculture and citrus industry organizations from California, Florida and Texas review research priorities to meet the industry’s immediate and long-term needs.
According to Creamer, priorities for the 2023 farm bill are currently in the works. “We’ve already begun the legwork to maintain the funding. We’re not asking for additional funding. The budget is tight, and there are lots of issues happening. We’re just trying to maintain what we’ve got to continue the good work that’s happening in partnership with our scientists across the nation.”
Danielle Leal is a multimedia journalist for AgNet West.
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