The vote was unanimous and the final tally was really no surprise. California citrus growers voted to renew the California Citrus Research Board (CRB) for another five years during a state-required referendum recently conducted by the California Food and Agriculture Department (CDFA).
CFDA says 79 percent of eligible growers submitted valid ballots including a 98.86 percent grower yes vote, representing 99.64 percent of the citrus volume, to continue their support of the CRB.
“Based upon this supportive vote of the citrus growers, the Department has authorized the California Citrus Research Program to continue operating for another five years, through September 30, 2022,” says CDFA Marketing Branch Chief Robert Maxie.
CRB President Gary Schulz chimed in - “We are pleased by the support of the growers, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them as we fund and conduct critical research designed to ensure the sustainability and success of the California citrus industry.”
The referendum vote really is a mirror of sorts, reflecting the current and future needs and threats facing the California citrus industry – including the industry’s current offensive against the worldwide citrus industry’s No. 1 threat – the dreaded disease Huanglongbing, a.k.a. HLB and citrus greening.
While the tree disease has eliminated about three-quarters of Florida’s commercial citrus industry since the disease was first found in 2005, the 50-plus HLB positive tree finds in California have been in residential citrus. The fight is to keep HLB out of commercial orchards and if it occurs then limit the disease’s spread.
The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, a grower funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act. It enables the state’s citrus growers to sponsor and support needed research.