I write to express deep appreciation to some extraordinary Floridians who have “changed the game” for Florida’s most iconic product.
When the president recently signed the Farm Bill, he validated the hard work of many producers around the country. However, Florida came out a particular winner because of the leadership of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, Tom Rooney, Vern Buchanan and Steve Southerland.
Those congressional leaders, at the urging of stakeholders such as Florida Citrus Mutual, under the able leadership of Mike Sparks, and citrus growers and supporters across the state, secured $125 million in game-changing research to fight citrus greening.
Those visionary leaders understood the profound value of Florida oranges, and we owe them our deepest gratitude for translating vision into action.
For too long, Florida growers, working closely with the Florida Department of Citrus, the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and many other organizations, have been fighting valiantly against greening with little notice from the nation’s capital.
In waging that lonely fight, Florida’s citrus industry has shown what makes us — and our nation — great: courage, innovation, vision and hard work.
Now we will add a new wave of cutting-edge, urgent research to the mix.
The game has changed. America is united, and we stand ready to take on the day.
The writer is chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission.