Georgia’s young, burgeoning citrus industry celebrated a win on April 18. Surrounded by specialty crop industry leaders, state representatives and a throng of interested parties, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation to establish a state commodity commission for citrus. The signing took place at the Bainbridge campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
“In 2013, Georgia had 4,500 citrus trees. In 2021 alone, over 390,000 citrus trees were planted in our state,” Kemp said. “This industry has grown at a rapid pace. UGA (University of Georgia) and other institutions have been leaders in researching citrus disease and furthering the viability of trees in our state. House Bill 545 will help us ensure that Georgia continues to benefit from this growing industry in a successful and sustainable way by creating the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Citrus Fruits, housed under the Department of Agriculture.”
Kemp emphasized that the bill received near unanimous support in the legislature. The signing of the bill was well received by those in attendance who came to show their support.
“The citrus commodity commission gives us an opportunity to ensure the citrus industry in our state continues to be successful and have the research and marketing dollars to help promote that industry and continue to build that industry,” said Tyler Harper, Georgia agriculture commissioner.
State Rep. Robert Dickey added, “I’m excited about our commodity commission for citrus. It’s a growing industry. We want to promote it and market it as Georgia Grown citrus. I think we’ve got a great product, some more research and promotion for our blooming citrus industry.”
Chris Butts, executive vice president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, added, “We’re thrilled for the citrus industry, obviously, joining lots of other segments of the fruit industry in Georgia. It’s burgeoning. It’s growing, and we’re really pleased to see the state putting resources behind it. This will allow the industry to also contribute to the research, education and promotion issues. It’s a great day for citrus.”