LAKELAND – Four men famous for their advocacy on behalf of the Florida citrus industry were inducted Friday into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame. “He never hesitated to bump heads when it was in the interest of the grower,” John Jackson, (below left) president of the Citrus Hall selection committee, said of Jerry Chicone Jr. (photo right) of Orlando , a.k.a. “Mr. Florida Citrus,” at the induction luncheon at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Joining Chicone in this year’s class were George Austin (center in photo above) of Alva, Ben Hill Griffin III (left in photo above) of Frostproof and the late D. Victor Knight Jr. of Vero Beach (no photo available).
Griffin is the second generation of the legendary citrus family that has been involved in all aspects of Florida citrus from growing to packinghouse and processing. He recalled being asked whether he would represent the processors or the growers before he joined the Florida Citrus Commission.
“I don’t have to decide to be a grower or a processor. I’ll do what’s right for the Florida citrus industry,” he told a luncheon crowd of nearly 400 people.
Austin, (photo left) a retired Alva grower, was recognized as a founding member of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association and for leading the industry’s political effort to protect the Brazilian orange juice tariff from being bargained away during free trade negotiations earlier this decade.
Knight is also a second generation grower who helped his family establish the Riverfront Groves Inc. packinghouse in Vero Beach and introduced the Star Ruby grapefruit to Florida .
Southeast AgNet thanks to Kevin Bouffard for providing our coverage of this event this year.