Join California Citrus Mutual for the 24th Annual Citrus Showcase at the Visalia Convention Center.

The election of President Trump in November took the Country and World by surprise. For California agriculture, the Trump Administration brings the promise of a more balanced regulatory climate in Washington, D.C., hope for a federal solution to the poor water policies that have driven too many valuable citrus acres out of production, and a new approach to trade and foreign policy.

In an article by the Western Farm Press last October, Clinton and Trump responded to questions about their policies respective to agriculture.  Trade, of course, was one question that, unfortunately, received a curt response from both candidates.  The question, specifically, was “How would you protect agricultural trade while renegotiating trade deals?”.

Trump adamantly opposed the largest prospective trade deal in recent history – the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite its clear and measurable benefit for California citrus growers.  Conversely, his protectionist trade policy could be helpful when it comes to the implementation of the Argentine lemon rule.  In any case, the Trump Administration will mean changes of some degree to the United States’ foreign trade policy.

There will inevitably be an impact on the California citrus industry, although the extent of which cannot be known today . Hopefully, it will be a little clearer by March 2nd when California Citrus Mutual hosts the 24th Annual Citrus Showcase at the Visalia Convention Center.

The highly anticipated Citrus Showcase luncheon program will feature a panel of key marketers from within the citrus industry who will offer their insight as to how the changing dynamics of trade deals under a new Administration could benefit the California citrus industry. The principles of four of the largest citrus marketers – Berne H Evans III of SunPacific, Jim Marderosian of BeeSweet Citrus, David Krause of Wonderful Citrus, and Sunkist CEO Russ Hanlin – will join CCM President Joel Nelsen on stage for an insightful dialogue about the opportunities, challenges advantages, and disadvantages for California citrus in today and tomorrow’s fresh produce market.

Aside from the political roller coaster that is Washington, D.C. post-election, growers will be affected by several new regulations that will become effective in 2017.  Preventing the spread of invasive pests and disease, customer imposed quality standards that go well beyond food safety, and water quality mandates are major challenges that will impact the marketing of California citrus and grower returns in a global citrus market.

For over a decade, California Citrus Mutual and other stakeholders have worked with the Regional Water Quality Control Board to create a mutually acceptable plan to address nitrates in groundwater and improve water quality long-term.  Recent actions by the State Board, however, could mean substantial changes to the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP).  The extent of these changes will be the focus of the morning workshop at the Showcase.

The Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing is one of, if not the most, serious issue growers are faced with.  I venture to predict the majority of this publication is focused on the ongoing research being done to identify a solution.  The expectation is that by March the industry will be on a path toward stricter enforcement and tighter regulations that will help stop the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing.

This final workshop will be a progress report on the new regulation and an evaluation of the return on the investment of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program.

Is the program achieving the objective? From where I sit now in time, the answer is yes, the return has been worth the investment.  Will this statement be true in January? In March?

Panelists from the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program and CDFA will review the post-harvest requirements for moving loads between quarantine regions and evaluate the effectiveness of the new enforcement program.

At the end of the workshop, growers will be able to answer for themselves if the return is worthy of the $15 million annual investment. Panelists include Nick Hill, Chair of the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program; Victoria Hornbaker, Manager for the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Kern County Agriculture Commissioner Ruben Arroyo, and Spencer Walse, Research Chemists for the USDA Agriculture Research Service.

The theme of this year’s Citrus Showcase is “Bringing the citrus industry together”.  A united industry will overcome the challenges ahead.  It is CCM’s mission to be the unifying body and a leader against oppressive regulations that reduce growers’ bottom lines.

2017 is a year of “new.”  A new Administration, new regulations, new challenges, and hopefully new opportunities.   We’ll dig into all these issues at the Citrus Showcase on March 2nd with what I promise will be an educational experience growers cannot afford to miss.

In addition to informative workshops on key issues affecting the citrus industry, the Citrus Showcase boasts a trade show of over 100 exhibitors.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. and the first workshop begins at 8:00 a.m.  There is no cost to attend the Showcase.  Lunch tickets can be purchased for $30 per person by contacting California Citrus Mutual at (559) 592-3790. Reserved tables of 8 and 10 are available.

The Citrus Showcase is brought to you by California Citrus Mutual with support from:  2,4-D Task Force, Accu-Label, BASF, Crop Science a Division of Bayer, Dow AgroSciences, Duarte Trees & Vines, Farm Credit, Fruit Grower’s Supply, JKB Energy, Sinclair, Syngenta, and Valent.