Florida’s Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF) was set up in 2009 to be the solution to citrus greening.
Instead, CRDF has become the problem.
Since 2009, CRDF has funded the Research-Industrial Complex of big multinationals and scholars who seem more interested in writing peer-reviewed articles for obscure, unreadable scholarly publications instead of coming up with applicable solutions to fight the blight.
And under the hand of Rick Dantzler, CRDF has been a bit too tight with big companies that want CRDF to pay them millions of dollars in expensive, dubious research. Some of these companies, like Monsanto-Bayer, have terrible reputations among growers.
13 years of CRDF failures
Dantzler told the Florida Citrus Mutual board in 2021 that since CRDF began operations in 2009:
- More than 100,000 acres of Florida citrus groves have been lost – from 451,100 acres to 351,057 acres.
- Annual production of oranges plummeted from 133.7 million boxes to 51.7 million boxes.
- Annual grapefruit production cratered from 20.3 million boxes to 4.4 million boxes.
- Florida’s citrus growers went out of business – from 8,000 to 2,500.
All of this was before the 2022 killer frost.
‘We … weren’t simply chasing the latest shiny thing’
Dantzler seems to acknowledge that he hasn’t had a real strategy. In January 2022, he tried to reassure growers that “we wanted to make sure we had a plan in place to address what needs to be done and weren’t simply chasing the latest shiny thing.”
He announced that after 13 years, CRDF has a strategy, meaning that it didn’t really have one: “we wanted growers and state policymakers (funders) to know that we weren’t funding everything that came along, that we had a strategy in place that would drive our overall research funding effort.”
CRDF has cost Florida citrus growers and taxpayers $180,000,000 and precious years of lost time as citrus greening advanced.
It has had zero results. And it won’t explore inexpensive, off-the-shelf possibilities that show potential.
Worst citrus yield since 1938
Florida’s citrus crop production is the worst since 1938.
CRDF and the giant agribusiness companies don’t seem to find value in inexpensive, off-the-shelf solutions that are readily available and don’t contaminate the environment.
Some of those potential solutions have demonstrated scientific promise. But CRDF isn’t interested, which is why it’s a problem.