CCM Statement on Chlorpyrifos Ban

Flawed Data Forcing Cancellation

News Release From California Citrus Mutual

Recently, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) announced that they are going to begin the cancellation process of chlorpyrifos. The statement cites scientific findings that chlorpyrifos poses serious public health and environmental risks to vulnerable communities.SaveOurCitrus Logo

“The decision to ban chlorpyrifos is not surprising given the significant pressure from anti-pesticide groups, active legislative proposals, regulatory proceedings, and ongoing court battles,” said CCM President Casey Creamer. “However, this decision relies heavily on an evaluation that was significantly flawed and based upon unrealistic modeling scenarios that are not verifiable by actual results in DPR’s own air monitoring network.”

“California Citrus Mutual and our member growers stand by science that is sound, that properly evaluates risks and puts forward appropriate safeguards to protect ourselves, our employees, and our surrounding communities. We are committed to safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos and other crop protection tools.”

“The process for which this chemical was evaluated was purposely exaggerated to achieve the desired outcome and jeopardizes the scientific credibility of the Department of Pesticide Regulation. This decision sets a terrible precedent for future evaluations and creates a chilling effect on companies planning on making significant investments to bring new products to the market in California.”

“The citrus industry is fighting feverishly to protect itself from the deadly citrus disease, Huanglongbing,” Creamer continued. “In order to do so, we must have the necessary tools in the toolbox for an effective Integrated Pest Management program.”

“The once mighty citrus-producing state of Florida has lost 70% of its production due to this disease, which is expanding exponentially in residential citrus trees in Southern California at this very moment. While our commercial growers will remain vigilant, it is vital that our policymakers recognize the seriousness of the threat and ensure sound scientific procedures are followed.”

“California Citrus Mutual will continue to be actively engaged in the regulatory processes around the cancellation decision and will continue to explore all potential remedies to allow the safe and effective use of chlorpyrifos.”

Casey Creamer Named New President/CEO of California Citrus Mutual

New Role Effective Feb. 1

News Release

 

CCM appoints current Executive Vice President and veteran agriculture industry representative.  Current President, Joel Nelsen to step down after 37 years at the helm and assume new role within the organization.

 

The California Citrus Mutual (CCM) Board of Directors has named current Executive Vice President Casey Creamer as its new President and CEO effective February 1st.  Creamer came to CCM last February after a national search process to eventually assume the role of President.  He succeeds Joel Nelsen, who has guided CCM for the last 37 years.

Huanglongbing
Joel Nelsen semi-retires after 37 years at the Helm.

“The citrus industry is very fortunate to have had an individual of Joel’s caliber the last 37 years.  That kind of loyalty is not only rare, it’s unheard of,” Board Chairman Curt Holmes said.  “Joel has taken a relatively small industry and has given us a huge voice.  We’ve faced many challenges over the years and have addressed them head on with his energy and passion leading the way.  We are incredibly grateful to him for his service and we appreciate his willingness to stay engaged in the industry.

“We are also very excited to have Casey on board as our new President and CEO,” continued Holmes.  “The Board conducted an extensive search process and interviewed viable candidates from across the country.  We ultimately found the right person in our own backyard.  His prior experience working for a sister commodity organization and his work representing growers on water issues made him an ideal selection.  Over the last year, his knowledge of the citrus industry has greatly expanded, and he has quickly become a valuable member of the CCM team on behalf of the industry.”

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve,” Creamer said.  “I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with some of the best leaders over my career and have nothing but respect and admiration for the job that Joel has done advancing issues important to the citrus industry.  I’m looking forward to carrying on the many successful traditions at CCM, while constantly seeking new ideas and pathways to address the significant challenges we face.  With the enthusiasm and commitment that exists in this industry, I am confident that together, we tackle any obstacle thrown our way.”

 

Citrus Mutual Encouraged by Farm Bill

California Citrus Mutual Commends Congress for Action on 2018 Farm Bill

News Release

This week, the U.S. Senate and the House passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill, with overwhelming bipartisan support. This legislation will direct agricultural policy and authorize funding for key agricultural programs in the federal government for the next 5 years.

President Trump has the opportunity to enact the 2018 Farm Bill before the end of the year.

CCM President Joel Nelsen offers the following statement:

“California Citrus Mutual applauds the Farm Bill conferees and House and Senate Ag Committees for moving forward a bill that includes priority programs for specialty crop producers. Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, and Jimmy Panetta were crucial voices for California farmers on the House Ag Committee. Along with Representatives Julia Brownley, Ken Calvert, and David Valadao, the California Members were instrumental to securing funding for research, trade and market enhancement, and pest and disease prevention that will directly benefit California specialty crop producers.

“With support from Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes and Senators Feinstein and Harris, key programs and funding for the U.S. citrus industry will continue in the next Farm Bill.

“The U.S. citrus industry will receive funding to continue priority research to identify a solution to Huanglongbing, a devastating plant disease that is threatening the sustainability of our domestic citrus industry. This is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I thank the Congressmen and Congresswoman, our U.S. Senators, and our colleagues in the specialty crop industry who worked diligently over the past several months to create a bipartisan Farm Bill that provides crucial resources to ensure our farmers can continue providing nutritious produce to Americans and people around the world.”

The 2018 Farm Bill includes $25 million per year for 5 years starting in 2019 for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB). This Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill and complements the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB.

The legislation also includes funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers. TASC has been in operation for over fifteen years and was created to address sanitary and phytosanitary issues and technical barriers to trade that prohibit or threaten exports of U.S. specialty crops.

Farm Bill Deal a Big Win for U.S. Citrus Growers

Agreement Provides $25 Million for ACP and HLB

News Release

Recently, leading farm bill negotiators in the House and Senate announced that they have reached an “agreement in principle” signaling that a final deal will be made before the end of the year.

Included in the initial agreement is language providing $25 million per year for 5 years for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB).

The Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill, which dedicated research funding for citrus.

“The trust fund language is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers,” California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said. “It’s critical for the future of our industry and the domestic citrus market that we continue to invest in research aimed to find a solution for HLB.”

The Farm Bill funding specific to HLB research complements the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB, which has been detected in over 900 backyard citrus trees in Southern California. In recent years, the state of California has dedicated funds to augment ACP and HLB control efforts in urban areas, including the rearing and release of millions of beneficial insects in backyard citrus trees.

Negotiators have also agreed to maintain funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program, which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I want to thank the lead farm bill negotiators in both houses for their commitment to passing a Farm Bill that includes this vital funding for the U.S. citrus industry and specialty crops,” Nelsen said.

No End in Sight for Stopping Huanglongbing Disease

Millions Spent to Fight Huanglongbing, with No Cure

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

The California citrus industry—made up of 3,500 growers in Ventura, Riverside, and the San Joaquin Valley, and encompassing 70-75 packing houses—is an agricultural facet that continues to make California a fresh citrus powerhouse. Joel Nelsen, President and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual, spoke to California Ag Today recently on the industry-wide issue of Huanglongbing Disease—a deadly disease that has threatened the industry in every part of the state.

“For our industry, it’s a combination of enthusiasm, unity, frustration, and aggravation because we continue to fight the spread of the disease in Southern California.”

“We’re continually frustrated because science has not yet found a cure. We’ve given the scientific community an average of thirty to forty million dollars a year to find a cure for this disease.”

In a recent study done by the University of California, Riverside, economic outputs of the citrus industry is roughly $7 billion.

“It’s an economic engine for certain parts of this state. Lose it, and it’s not a positive alternative, that’s for sure,” Nelsen said.

Study Forecasts Cost of Regulations on California Citrus Industry

Citrus Research Board Explains Cost Impacts on Growers

News Release From California Citrus Mutual

New regulations are expected to cost California citrus growers an average of $701 per acre per year, or $203 million annually statewide, according to a new study commissioned by the Citrus Research Board (CRB).

“Compliance with environmental regulations not associated with groundwater sustainability is estimated to increase costs by $17.7 million, or $67 per acre of citrus,” predicts Bruce A. Babcock, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside who authored the study. “New labor requirements will increase costs by $112 million, or $357 per acre, once they are all phased in.”

“Babcock has presented a well-researched economic report that shows how new regulations will increasingly impact California’s citrus industry,” said CRB President Gary Schulz.

The report, Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, also predicts that controlling the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) “will increase costs by $65 million, or $248 per acre per year, if controls are extended to all citrus-growing regions.” Compliance training costs are estimated to increase costs by another $29 per acre, or $7.5 million for the state citrus industry.

“As I read and reread Dr. Babcock’s report, two things kept jumping off the page: one, ‘Cost increases borne by California’s citrus but not by … other citrus growing regions decrease the future competitiveness of California’s citrus industry’; and two, ‘… future compliance with these regulations is estimated to increase costs by $203 million, or $701 per acre per year,'” said California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen. “When the cost of citrus at store level gets too expensive, consumers look for lower priced fruit. This UCR report paints a clear path for policy makers if their goal is to drive the citrus industry out of California and onto off-shore production areas.”

The 20-page report includes a breakdown of increases in labor costs, including California’s minimum hourly wage increases, which are scheduled to rise in annual increments to $15 over the next four years. The report also covers the projected cost increases of recent state legislation dealing with paid sick leave, payment rates for rest and recovery periods, overtime and workers compensation.

The section on insecticide treatment addresses grower cost of spraying for ACP, even though the severity of the problem currently differs greatly in various areas of the state. If ACP establishes itself in all citrus regions in the state, which the report says is “almost inevitable,” control efforts would amount to $39.5 million per year, according to Babcock. This would be in addition to the state-mandated tarping of fruit that is transported to packinghouses, at a cost of approximately $9 million per year.

According to the report, The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was passed in 2011 and is still being implemented, will not require major changes for growers who are already GFSI-certified (Global Food Safety Initiative compliant).

The impact of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is hard to predict, according to Babcock. “It will not be possible to calculate the impact of SGMA until each basin’s groundwater sustainability plans have been finalized,” he states. “Without new surface water supplies, it seems inevitable that some farmland that currently relies on groundwater will need to be fallowed to balance withdrawals with recharge rates.”

Babcock, a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, has won numerous awards for his applied policy research. He received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from UC Berkeley, and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from UC Davis.

The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act, as the mechanism enabling the state’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. The full report on the Impact of Regulations on Production Costs and Competitiveness of the California Citrus Industry, as well as more information about the Citrus Research Board, may be read at www.citrusresearch.org.

15 Percent Chinese Tariff will Harm Farmers

CCM President Issues Statement Regarding Chinese Tariff Announcement

News Release from California Citrus Mutual

While the proposed 15% Chinese tariff increase will affect all fruits, nuts and vegetables shipped to China, California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen issued the following statement regarding the tariff increase on  California citrus as a retaliatory counter to President Donald Trump’s new tariffs on steel and aluminum:

The decision by the Chinese government to levy exorbitant tariff increases on U.S. produce will surely have a direct impact on California citrus producers. Maintaining access to foreign markets and having the ability to compete in a global market place are critical to the success of the citrus industry.

The retaliatory tariffs imposed by China hinders our ability to be competitive by increasing costs for Chinese consumers, an important market for California citrus. Family farmers in our industry will suffer from the economic fallout unless we can find alternative markets for California’s While our Administration focuses on those business sectors requiring attention, the Chinese Administration has chosen to expand the discussion to include the agricultural industry. In fact, the Chinese indicated last week in a statement that constructive talks could alleviate the real issues, yet insufficient time was given to accomplish that objective. Now Chinese consumers and California citrus producers are innocent parties to a trade debate.

Nelsen, CCM Executive Vice President Casey Creamer, and Board Chairman Curt Holmes have traveled to Washington, D.C. recently for meetings with Congress and the Administration regarding trade and other important issues affecting the California citrus industry.

Relentless Search for ACP and HLB Trees

Intense Inspections of Urban Citrus Trees Continue

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Joel Nelsen is president and CEO of California Citrus Mutual, based in Exeter. He told California Ag Today recently that there is an “active plan to look for trees harboring Asian Citrus Psyllids (ACP) infected Huanglongbing (HLB) trees in urban areas because we’re looking for nobody else across this country, let alone in the southern hemisphere, to look for infected trees in the urban area. Mexico and Brazil didn’t do it. We’re doing it.”

Huanglongbing
Joel Nelsen

The hope is that they find HLB and stop it there.

“Commercial growers are under tight testing programs to combat the Asian Citrus Psyllid. As far as it relates to commercial growers, we’re doing enough trapping that we’re not finding what we call hot spots of Asian Citrus Psyllids,” Nelsen said. “Secondarily and most importantly, we have a very strict clonal protection program, so growers are only allowed to access trees after they’ve gone through a rigorous testing program at both the nursery and the rootstock from the university.”

Nelsen said that the chances of a grower introducing the insect into an area is rather slim; it’s more often likely that the disease will be introduced to a grove.

Testing is random and more lab space is needed.

“Most of it’s been random because it is an intensive program. We’re analyzing roughly 20,000 leaves and twigs every month,” Nelsen explained. “We’re analyzing several thousand ACP every month. In fact, our lab capacity is capped, and one of the discussions that we’re having is to identify what labs can do what and whether or not we need to expand the number of labs doing business.”

“So we are looking at additional lab space, and in fact, we have already contracted with the University of Arizona Lab in Tucson  and maybe we’ll consider using private labs to do the initial work,” Nelsen said. “Now, they’re not going to be able to confirm whether or not an ACP is there, but they go in and evaluate that twig or green waste waste and if in fact there is a suspicion, then you send in the California Department of Food and Agriculture folks.”

More Cooperation Regarding Citrus Health and HLB Disease

Citrus Health Response Program Discussed at UC Riverside

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Ag Today recently interviewed Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual. He spoke on his recent trip to UC Riverside about the Citrus Health Response Program. While speaking with USDA, they discussed the game plans that will be used to battle Huanglongbing (HLB) disease, which is vectored by an invasive insect called Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“We got into it, which I thought was an interesting discussion. What would growers do if in fact HLB was discovered in a grower’s orchard and what would the be obligated to do,” Nelsen said.

“And what came out of that discussion is that we are going to work with the USDA. We’re going to develop a war game scenario. We’re going to bring people into a room and start talking about it, just to see what the reactions were, and we’re going to challenge these individuals to do what needs to be done,” Nelsen explained. “We’re just going to have to figure out how best to address the industry and areas like this.”

Nelsen said that they discussed whether or not there was enough being done in that partnership with the homeowner. “We came to the conclusion that no, quite frankly the industry has been carrying that ball and that USDA and CDFA can do a little bit more in their role as government”

Tree removal and beneficial insects were also discussed.

“We talked about the continued trees being removed, and everybody was satisfied about that. We talked about whether or not beneficial insects can help in this situation. Surprisingly, the answer was pretty much no,” Nelsen explained. “Beneficial releases may help in an urban environment to a small extent, but from a commercial standpoint, it doesn’t help. So there were a lot of discussions, some debate, and most of all, some camaraderie that was developed as far as going forward.”

Nearly 400 trees in front and back yards of homes have been destroyed due to testing positive to HLB disease.

“They’re all in a clearly defined geographical area in Southern California,” Nelsen said. “So what we have is a lot of backyard adventures that bring in rootstock that unfortunately was diseased, and as a result of that, those individuals are the ones that are seeing problems associated with their own trees.”

Fighting Huanglongbing Is Job One

Citrus Health Program Protecting State’s Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of the California Citrus Mutual based in Exeter, spoke to California Ag Today about a recent trip to UC Riverside to discuss the Citrus Health Response Program and huanglongbing disease.

“For the last several years, the federal government and the California citrus industry had a wonderful partnership with some ideas, some regulation, and most importantly, with some funds,” Nelsen said. “So periodically, USDA comes to do an audit as to what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and whether or not there needs to be some reevaluation.”

“The Citrus Health Response Program is the program we call a CHRP for a two-day evaluation. You had scientists and regulators from USDA; you had regulators from CDFA, along with a few scientists,” Nelsen explained.

“You had that entire stakeholder group and members from the scientific community and UC Riverside to evaluate what we’re doing and why, but eventually we did achieve one objective and that’s coming up with several action steps that we need to do as an industry in partnership with government,” he said.

The concern of Huanglongbing disease was discussed and game plans were presented.

“What was interesting is this was a friendly audit. They weren’t interested in taking money away, they weren’t interested in determining if we’re using dollars appropriately, but they wanted us to talk about why we were still spraying in the urban environment for the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which vectors Huanglongbing,” Nelsen said.

“They wanted us to talk about whether or not growers were doing what they were supposed to be doing and of course, they are doing what they need to do to keep the deadly disease out of commercial citrus orchards,” Nelsen said.