As strong as the headwinds are facing the American farmer these days, it seems the Florida citrus grower has been dealing with some of the strongest. It’s a wind that’s way beyond gale force and — even as tough and resilient as Florida citrus growers are — it can be utterly overwhelming.
Fortunately we have a select group of legislators and solid industry leaders still working hard to support the industry. We often hear farmers in situations like this speak of “heritage,” or “preserving a way of life,” or “just keeping the farm alive.”
It’s times like this that I think we may be missing the big picture.
Those things are important. Those things are ingrained in the basic fiber of most farmers. But, to be brutally honest, when we’re talking about tax dollars to support an industry, most people outside of agriculture couldn’t care less about a way of life.
There are two things that are of the utmost importance to the average person: their physical and financial health. This is where Florida citrus has always shined. People seemed to have taken for granted just how important the cornucopia of health benefits citrus provides to the world, especially in these post-pandemic times.
The second part of the equation is the tremendous economic contribution the citrus industry has historically generated whether it be in the form of jobs, tax revenue, or supporting allied industries. Even in the industry’s current fragile state, this contribution is tremendous. According to a recently-published report by UF/IFAS economist Christa Court, the Florida citrus industry continues to support 32,542 jobs and approximately $7 billion dollars in economic output.
These two well-established facts should be shouted from the rooftops when requesting support for the Citrus industry. With the ever-increasing federal deficit and so much of our hard-earned tax dollars continually squandered, we should all ardently strive to demonstrate the huge return on investment — both physically and financially — the state gains from supporting the citrus industry.
These are two of the most important reasons the Tree Defender team feels so strongly about supporting this industry and continually strives to play a part in this effort.
Bio: Scott Thompson is co-founder of Tree Defender, Radical Ag-Tech, and Care Planet Technologies. He is a Central Florida native with a background in agribusiness, food manufacturing, and bioscience.
This column is sponsored by Tree Defender, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.