Citrus Showcase to address growing concers in industry

“Contemporary philosopher, Oprah Winfrey coined the phrase about having an ‘aha moment.’ It is that moment in time when you realize that you have learned something startling that will influence you in the years to come,” said CCM President Joel Nelsen leading up to the 2013 Citrus Showcase on Thursday, March 7th at the Visalia Convention Center.

“The Citrus Showcase has the potential to be an ‘Aha moment’ for the citrus industry. It has been in the past and I am sure it will be again this year.”

Each year, California Citrus Mutual brings together citrus growers and industry stakeholders for a one-day showcase featuring three educational workshops and a trade show of over 100 exhibitors.  It is the largest educational forum for California citrus growers with workshops focused on priority issues that are currently impacting the industry. This year’s program includes workshop sessions on the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program and where the industry stands in its effort to combat the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing, and the current market trends and dynamics that are and are not gaining citrus more shelf space at the retail level.

Doug Patteson, Water Resources Control Engineer for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, will present an overview of the Board’s role in the development and implementation of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) in the workshop “Water Regulations – What You Need to Know.”Also speaking is Rick Hoelzel, Manager of Water Resources at the Kings River Conservation District, on the role of the water quality coalitions as representatives of the grower-members; and Blake Sanden, Irrigation & Agronomy Farm Advisor at the University of California Cooperative Extension, on how growers can implement nitrogen-efficient growing practices.  The ILRP has garnered significant attention in the past several months and this workshop is anticipated to draw a large crowd.

The second workshop, “ACP/HLB Partnership – Who is in Charge?” will focus on the effort by the California citrus industry to prevent the spread of ACP and introduction HLB. A panel of local, state, and national stakeholders will discuss whether a $15 million per annum investment by growers coupled with an $11.5 million effort by USDA is achieving the objective desired. Panel members include Dr. Prakash Hebbar, Director for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Service (APHIS) division and the Citrus Health Response Plan (CHRP) who will brief the audience of the role of the CHRP program in the national ACP/HLB effort; Dr. Robert Leavitt, CDFA Director of the Plant Health Division will provide an overview of CDFA’s position in fighting ACP/HLB here in California; and finally Nick Hill, citrus grower and Chairman of the industry-funded Citrus Disease and Prevention Program and Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Director at the Lindcove Research Extension Center will discuss the program’s efficacy for commercial growers in quarantine and eradication zones.

The Luncheon program will begin at 12 p.m. and feature Key Note Speaker Greg Calistro, Executive Director of Produce for Save Mart stores. Calistro will provide a retail perspective on how consumer buying habits have and will continue to shape the produce industry at all levels of the supply chain in a speech entitled, “The Game Changers: Industry and Consumer Trends.”  With over 25 years of experience in the business, Calistro is currently on the Board of Directors of the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and the Northern California Board for the City of Hope.

Calistro will also join a panel of citrus merchandisers and retail representatives for the afternoon workshop, “Marketing – Where does citrus fit in?” This workshop will cover competition and retail dynamics affecting the citrus industry, and how best to make a commodity such as citrus more attractive for retailers without altering prices.  Panelists will participate in a roundtable discussion and exchange views on what is and is not working for the citrus industry at retail stores and how best to strength shelf space and increase demand.

The Citrus Showcase is sponsored by JKB Energy, Valent, Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, Fruit Growers Supply, Southern California Edison, Yara, Sinclair, and Bank of the West.

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