There are people who are optimistic about a cure for citrus greening, and then there are those who feel utterly defeated. Regardless of which camp you’re in, the decline of one of Florida’s greatest industries is leaving a vacuum, and that puts landowners in a bind.
While scientists feverishly search for a greening cure — or, heck, even a Band-aid — countless growers across the state are losing their livelihoods. They’re faced with difficult decisions because citrus, plain and simple, just isn’t a viable option right now.
Their options are:
1.) Sell their groves (and dreams) to developers then live with the regret 20 years down the road if we defeat greening.
2). Hold onto their groves in the hopes that a cure-all comes sooner rather than later, then lose their Greenbelt ag exemptions while they wait.
3.) Sink an easy $60,000 into every acre to convert their fields to a CUPS operation. (Let’s be serious: Most operations don’t have this kind of money.)
That’s not many choices. And I don’t know about you, but I like options.
So what if there was another alternative? We can’t successfully grow citrus right now, but we can certainly grow protein. What if we repurpose the land and instead use it to raise livestock? This way landowners have a chance of retaining their Greenbelt exemptions, keeping the land, and holding on until a solution for greening is found.
I’m not saying it’s the perfect solution, and I’m not saying it would save citrus landowners. Obviously, a livestock operation wouldn’t be as profitable as citrus was back in its heyday.
What I am saying is that repurposing the land could be an affordable stopgap. Abandoned groves already have the infrastructure they need to grow forage for goats, sheep, and lambs. My new hyperlocal processing facility would offer top dollar and quick turnaround, and that land could once again be profitable.
At least it might tide us over until we find a way to mine liquid gold again.