Representative Ben Albritton Supports Box Tax to Continue Research
Ballots are now out to vote to continue the citrus box tax that helps fund the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF). State Representative Ben Albritton is a citrus grower who voiced his support of the referendum. Albritton urged growers to give their support as well.
The Florida Citrus Research Order was established in 1992 to support efforts by the industry through the creation of the Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council (FCPRAC) to develop solutions to production challenges. The research order has a 6-year cycle and is subject to renewal upon request by the industry and a vote of support by industry. The creation of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) helped the industry grow beyond FCPRAC and toward a more structured organization to manage a world-class research response, as well as the additional and unique ability to fund and support product delivery innovations resulting from sponsored research projects.
The current Research Order will end August 1, 2016. Ballots will be distributed to grove owners in January with an early February due date. Growers overwhelmingly approved the last referendum in December, 2009 by a 3-to-1 margin.
The CRDF is transparent. It is run by growers for the benefit of growers. The 13-member board of directors has super majority of growers and all of its business is conducted in public meetings and subject to Florida Sunshine laws. The CRDF board or its committees meet several times each month at the CREC in Lake Alfred and they are open to the public.
CRDF has played a huge role garnering significant state and federal citrus research dollars to supplement the funding that growers are contributing. The key to lobbying for these dollars is good communication and by utilizing the CRDF, the industry can paint a clear picture of the ongoing support by Florida growers and how additional funding will be used. Legislators know the money will be managed efficiently by CRDF.
In part due to the CRDF, Florida citrus researchers have enjoyed an unprecedented infusion of state and federal grant dollars over the past few years including $125 million in the Farm Bill, more than $20 million in state appropriations and about $20 million in other federal dollars. Those dollars support projects that growers would otherwise have to fund, and pushes us toward solutions.
On the other hand, it will be important for the continued financial partnership between the state legislature and the citrus industry to illustrate that growers continue to provide financial support to HLB solutions.
Research has proven over time to provide solutions to pests and diseases, and other challenges confronted by Florida citrus growers. In addition to research, CRDF can find and provide supportive funding to candidates with viable solutions in this extraordinary time-sensitive period for our industry. CRDF provides the industry’s best mechanism to research, find and help fund these solutions.