“[The] two biggest challenges we have are labor and water. Some days, labor’s number one and water’s number two, but they’re both always right up there,” she said.
Ross spoke at the recent California Citrus Conference in Visalia.
“I think for the future, water is very key to how we’ll grow. I think it’s important for people to think about how we farm in this state,” she said. “We farm to extremely high environmental standards, and extremely high labor standards. Those are responsibilities that we have taken on. I certainly hope that people will continue to buy California to reward that kind of stewardship, because it comes with a price.”
Ross noted that investment is key with labor, automation and water.
“We just have to get through a couple of really big, challenging issues,” she explained. “Automation’s going to definitely be more of our future, and as we invest in that automation, we have to make sure we’re concurrently investing in the workforce skills development to go with it, because they will be different jobs.”
“When it comes to water, the renewed focus on how do we do intentional groundwater recharge as part of making the sustainable groundwater management actually work in our basins is going to be an exciting opportunity for us,” she said.
California Citrus ACP and HLB Update from Gary Schulz
By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster
The Citrus Research Board (CRB) recently held their annual California Citrus Conference in Exeter, bringing together a variety of guest speakers and research presentations. The Conference focused on pressing Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) and Huanglongbing (HLB) issues, along with political action updates and current projects that are important to the citrus industry. Gary Schulz, president of the CRB, said “We have a 21-member board and we’ve been planning this event for the last 12 months. It’s been 4 years since we held the last conference,” noted Schulz.
The CRB is responsible for overseeing the California Citrus Research Program (CCRP), a grower-funded and grower-directed program created in 1968 under the California Marketing Act. The CCRP’s purpose to enable California’s citrus producers to sponsor and support research that furthers the overall industry. Therefore, close to 70 percent of the CRB’s overall budget is allocated to research.
Schulz said the Conference “was a great, great day to have a good update on some of the dollars the Citrus Research Board has been spending on the growers’ behalf on research.” Schulz explained HLB represents the single greatest threat that citrus growers have faced worldwide.
For the past seven years, the USDA and Congress have allocated between $10 and $12 million dollars annually for ACP and HLB research operations. Advocacy groups and other supportive ag organizations have contributed the difference to reach an annual ACP and HLB research budget of close to $90 million dollars a year. We fund a lot of UC Riverside and USDA agricultural research, service researchers, plus research at UC Davis and the University of Arizona,” Schulz noted.
Schulz, who has many years of experience in California agriculture, having served as general manager of the Raisin Administrative Committee and CEO of the California Raisin Marketing Board, stated that CRB has a great working relationship with California Citrus Mutual (CCM). “Joel Nelson and CCM have worked very hard with the packers to assess themselves, put together a private foundation, and work with the university,” Schulz said.
Featured Photo: Adult Asian Citrus Psyllid (Source: The Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program)