2 CapitalPress.com November 24, 2017 People & Places Growers feel the squeeze as citrus industry drops By DAVE BERMAN AND WAYNE T. PRICE Florida Today MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — From a 2-acre plot on north Merritt Island, Steve Crisafulli looks at rows of orange trees, searching for a glimmer of hope for Bre- vard’s dying citrus industry. Crisafulli — a Merritt Is- land resident whose last name has been synonymous with the citrus business for five gener- ations — has given over this small grove on his family’s land for a U.S. Department of Agriculture experiment that he prays will unlock the secret of a more disease-resistant or- ange tree. The test grove contains about five different variet- ies of citrus trees planted in combination with about 10 different root stocks. The goal is to determine which combi- nations work best. The Crisafullis view the USDA project as perhaps the last-ditch effort to stem the painful, long-term downturn of the citrus industry. Cit- rus production in Florida has dropped 59 percent since the 2008-09 season. Production plunged even more in Brevard County, by 87 percent. And, recently, two of the area’s last traditional citrus retailers — Harvey’s Groves stores in Rockledge and West Melbourne and the Policicchio Groves retail store on north Merritt Island — an- nounced they will not open their stands for the 2017-18 Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today via AP Steve Crisafulli examines a tree in a USDA test grove on North Merritt Island, Fla. The grove has four or five varieties of citrus trees with 10 different root stocks to see how they do. The citrus industry has been hit hard by canker, greening and the weather. season. The companies will keep operating their mail or- der businesses. For some, the closing of these iconic roadside attrac- tions is a bittersweet reminder of an older Brevard, a sleepier community before the rumble of rockets, when citrus was king and a muck-free, crys- tal-clear Indian River teemed with sea trout and manatees. Sorting warehouses dominat- ed the landscape on U.S. 1, and trucks filled with pungent fruit plied the roads. Now, some of those ware- houses are crumbling dere- licts, as diseases like canker and citrus greening — and hurricanes — have hit the industry hard. Many growers decided it was more lucrative to sell their groves to devel- opers to transform them into residential subdivisions, rath- er than continue growing or- anges or grapefruits. And a looming question is where to buy the renowned orange and grapefruit juice that only comes from Indian River-grown fruit? Indian River citrus has al- ways been world-renowned for its quality and still is, albe- it with a deeply declining pro- duction — if you can find it. Even longtime local citrus growers like Crisafulli and Frank Sullivan of Cocoa say their families now buy their orange juice at the grocery store. But it’s not nearly the same as the fresh-squeezed juice. “None of it really mea- sures up,” Sullivan said. Crisafulli agrees. “Nothing is as good as the real thing,” he said with a grin. Thinking about the citrus industry’s downturn, Crisa- fulli says: “I think it’s sad, because it’s an identity not just for Brevard, but the entire state.” “Along the river, on both sides of the river, and certain- ly all of Merritt Island, was nothing but citrus groves,” Sullivan said. “There were 9,000 acres of citrus inside NASA,” referring to the sprawling federal reserve that is home to the Kennedy Space Center. That land was “some of the best growing land in the state” for citrus, Sullivan said. The downturn didn’t hap- pen suddenly. Florida citrus production peaked in 1997- 98, when 304.45 million boxes of oranges, grape- fruits and other citrus were produced. By 2016-17, that figure dropped 74 percent to 78.13 million boxes. The lat- est projection for the current 2017-18 season puts expected production at 54.65 million boxes. Each box would weigh 85 to 95 pounds, depending on the type of fruit. Sullivan, who is in the third-generation of his family in the citrus business, traces the local industry’s problems back even further — to the devastating freezes of the 1980s. “That took a lot of citrus out. Then, there was the dis- ease,” said Sullivan, who no longer grows citrus, but con- tinues to operate the Sullivan Victory Groves citrus mail order business on U.S. 1 in Cocoa. Sullivan and other citrus mail order businesses in the region coordinate their pur- chase of citrus for resale from a handful of remaining local growers, including one in Scottsmoor. “It facilitates buying the best fruit” that’s available at any particular time, said Sulli- van, who also is a former Ca- naveral Port Authority com- missioner. “We go wherever we can get it.” This is a peak season for the mail order business, as many people want fresh fruit ahead of the holidays. Even with the thinning of the citrus industry in Florida, Doug Bournique, executive vice president of the Fort Pierce-based Indian Riv- er Citrus League, said he is hopeful growers in Brevard will make a resurgence in pro- ducing oranges and grapefruit on the Space Coast. FFA, Les Schwab, Wilco team up to collect 510,000 pounds of food As the holiday season de- scends upon us, most people get to over-indulge in creamy mashed potatoes, savory tur- key, and delectable desserts. But for many Oregonians, the holidays are more famine than feast as numerous resi- dents struggle to provide food for themselves and their fami- lies. Since 2008, the Oregon Food Bank has seen demand for emergency food boxes in- crease by 40 percent. It is for that reason agriculture students across Oregon want to help feed those that need it most. In the spirit of the holiday season, the Oregon FFA part- nered with Les Schwab Tire Centers, Wilco Co-op, Capital Press and the East Oregonian newspaper to help combat hunger. The initial goal of rais- ing 250,000 pounds of food in 2015 seemed daunting but the more than 6,000 FFA members from over 100 chapters and Les Schwab Tire Centers across Or- egon made great strides to help provide the Oregon Food Bank and other local food pantries with much needed food. This year the Drive Away Courtesy of Oregon FFA Foundation Oregon FFA members worked with Les Schwab, Wilco Co-op, Capital Press and the East Oregonian newspaper to collect food for those in need. Hunger Event collected over 510,150 pounds of food, dou- ble the original goal, and enough to provide more than 380,000 meals. Over the past three years, the event has raised over 1.5 million pounds of food for those suffering from food insecurity, enough food to help nearly 3,500 Oregon families for more than a month. The efforts to collect the food were as diverse as the communities themselves. In Adrian, students gleaned farm fields after harvest to col- lect much needed produce as well as held a class competition, all of which helped collect over 7 tons of food. Some chapters focused on working with local farmers, like Jefferson FFA, who partnered with Case Farms, which donated more than 20,000 pounds of winter squash. Other chapters, like Canby FFA, hit the streets and went door-to-door dropping off col- lection bags in a trick or treat for cans. In Prineville, where Les Schwab Tires first began, the FFA chapter raised a crop of potatoes and was able to do- nate over 9,000 pounds to the local food banks. “The FFA thanks all the farmers, community members and everyone who brought food, donated time and helped give to this effort.” remarked Kevin White, executive director of the Oregon FFA Foundation. In addition to local chapter efforts, people were encour- aged to drop food off at any local Les Schwab store, and collection bags were distrib- uted by the Capital Press, the East Oregonian, Hermiston Herald, Blue Mountain Eagle, and the Wallowa Chieftain. Bags were also available at Oregon Les Schwab and Wil- co locations. Most of the food will be distributed by the Or- egon Food Bank network and end up back in the communi- ties in which it was raised. This is a very special proj- ect for the Oregon FFA, where members were given the chance to embody the FFA motto of “…learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve. In this hunger initia- tive, FFA members set an ex- ample of service leadership,” said White. “It is essential for these young people to have a partner like Les Schwab. Les Schwab employees have, for decades, served as role models to our members by serving their communities and neighbors.” The Oregon FFA is part of the National FFA Organization and is a national youth orga- nization of 653,359 student members — all preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and tech- nology of agriculture. There are 8,568 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Monsanto asks Arkansas judge to halt state’s herbicide ban By ANDREW DEMILLO Associated Press LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A major agribusiness company asked an Arkansas judge Fri- day to halt the state’s plan to ban an herbicide that’s drawn complaints from farmers across several states who say the weed killer has drifted onto their fields and caused widespread damage. Monsanto asked a Pulaski County judge to strike down the rule approved by the state Plant Board earlier this month that would prohibit the use of Calendar dicamba from April 16 through Oct. 31. The ban is expected to go before a legislative panel next month, but the Missou- ri-based company said action is needed now because farmers are already buying their prod- ucts for next year’s growing season. “The ban severely curtails Monsanto’s ability to sell its new dicamba-tolerant seed and low-volatility dicamba herbi- cide within the state, and every day the ban remains in place costs Monsanto sales and cus- tomers,” the company said in its filing. Sponsored by: To submit an event go to the Community Events calendar on the home page of our website at www. capitalpress.com and click on “Sub- mit an Event.” Calendar items can also be mailed to Capital Press, 1400 Broadway St. NE, Salem, OR 97301 or emailed to newsroom@ capitalpress.com. Write “Calendar” in the subject line. Tuesday Nov. 28 Developing or Expanding Your Farm Stand or Agritourism Oper- ation. 5-8 p.m. OSU Extension, Auditorium, SOREC, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point, Ore. A 4-class series on the subject begins Nov. 28. Sign up for one class or all four: Nov. 28 is Understanding Regulations and Licenses for Farm Stands. Website: http://bit.ly/Jack- sonSmallFarms Tuesday-Friday Nov. 28-Dec. 1 Oregon Water Resources Con- gress Annual Conference. Best Western Hood River Inn, 1108 E Marina Drive, Hood River, Ore. Web- site: https://owrc.org/ Wednesday, Nov. 29 Establishing Equitable Leases A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture declined to comment on the lawsuit. Dicamba has been around for decades, but problems arose over the past couple of years as farmers began to use it on soybean and cotton fields where they planted new seeds engineered to be resistant to the herbicide. Because it can easily evaporate after being applied, the chemical sometimes set- tles on neighboring fields. The state earlier this year approved a temporary ban on the herbi- cide’s sale and use, and has re- ceived nearly 1,000 complaints about dicamba this year. The request to halt next year’s ban was added to a law- suit Monsanto filed last month over the board’s decision in 2016 to prohibit the use of dicamba. In its amended lawsuit filed Friday, the company argued the Plant Board exceeded its au- thority by banning dicamba and did not consider the financial impact on the state’s farmers. Monsanto said it would ask the court to move quickly on its complaint, and hoped the board would join in that request. “This is all about having the newest technology avail- able to growers so they can choose what products they wish to use to combat those difficult-to-control weeds,” said Scott Partridge, the com- pany’s vice president of global strategy. “There’s no reason to delay.” The company also chal- lenged the makeup of the 18-member board, arguing a state law that gives private groups such as the state Seed Growers Association power to appoint members violates Ar- kansas’ constitution. GASES / WELDING / SAFETY / FIRE www.oxarc.com for Hazelnut Orchards. 9 a.m.-noon. OSU Extension, Lane County office, 996 Jefferson St., Eugene, Ore. RSVP Jeffchoate@oregonstate.edu or 541-344-1709 Wednesday-Thursday Nov. 29-30 Oregon Board of Agriculture Meeting. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Food Inno- vation Center, 1207 NW Naito Park- way, Portland, Ore. On day one, the board will receive a presentation on developing a statewide brand to pro- mote and identify Oregon food and agricultural products and a briefing on a recently completed report on cano- 20 Northwest Locations la research in the Willamette Valley. Board members will also select indi- viduals to represent agriculture on the Oregon Agriculture Heritage Program and the Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia. The afternoon includes tours of the Port of Portland and a cannabis pro- duction operation. On day two, the board will hear a discussion of “cap and invest” carbon-dioxide reduction efforts that address greenhouse gas emissions and provide opportunities for agriculture. Kristen Sheeran, Gov. Kate Brown’s carbon policy advisor, and Jenny Lester Moffitt, deputy sec- retary of the California Department 1-800-765-9055 of Food and Agriculture, will lead the discussion. Public comment periods are 10:15 a.m. on day one and 9:15 a.m. on day two. Website: http://bit. ly/2cKsbhX Wednesday-Friday Nov. 29-Dec. 1 Farm Fair and Tradeshow. Eastern Oregon Trade and Event Center, 1705 E. Airport Road, Hermiston, Ore. Local and regional agriculture-related busi- nesses will display their services and products both inside and outside the center. There will be many sessions on topics important to farmers and ranch- ers. 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