Citrus growers vote in support of keeping the Citrus Research Board, which helps investigate disease, pests, production and postharvest technology and new varieties
VISALIA – California citrus growers expressed overwhelming support during a scheduled referendum over the Citrus Research Board (CRB) in June.
“We are pleased to once again receive the support of the industry,” CRB President Marcy Martin said. “We look forward to continually improving upon the scientific pillars that allow the California citrus industry to thrive.”
Support from growers was nearly unanimous – 97.8% of eligible citrus producers that voted, representing 99.51% of the entire state’s citrus volume. The referendum was conducted on June 11 by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and must be completed every five years.
Over the past five years, the CRB has worked continuously to advance findings within four research priorities: vectored disease, pest management, production and post-harvest technology and new varieties. Much of the research has focused on the deadly disease huanglongbing (HLB). Advancements have been made to keep infections from spreading in California as HLB has devastated other citrus-growing regions including Florida. But the diligence of California’s growers has kept the disease from entering any of the state’s commercial groves.
The referendum allows for a tax the grower must pay per box of citrus that is produced, known as a box-tax. The collected tax money then goes to the CRB to support research.
CRB puts out a quarterly magazine, Citograph, to show projects and highlights of what they have been working on. According to Valley grower Greg Galloway, this magazine allows himself and other growers to see where their box-tax money is going. The magazine covers a wide variety of topics, offering educational pieces for growers. Galloway said seeing the numbers this year speaks volumes as to what most growers think of the referendum and CRB.
“CRB is doing a great job of sharing the data and the results of these research projects,” Galloway said.
The tax does not only help the grower. The research as a result of the tax can extend beyond the grower to the shipper or someone doing the research. But Galloway said CRB always does a good job making the end result about the grower as they are the ones paying for it.
After the vote on this referendum, the program will run until September 2027.
“Since the referendum results exceed the criteria required for continuation, [CDFA] has authorized the program to continue operating for another five-year period,” CDFA Marketing Branch Chief Joe Monson said.
The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program was established in 1968, under the California Marketing Act. It was used as the mechanism enabling the State’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research.