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Change is inevitable throughout life – in our families and children, in our communities, in the way we conduct business and interact with each other, and we also see it in the way we work within the citrus industry. Because of change, we must also adapt. This is why the idea to change orange juice standards and orange classifications with the USDA is so important.

The current orange juice standards and orange classifications do not reflect the future of this industry, or the future of the oranges that will be on our trees. The Florida Citrus Commission discussed this topic at our most recent meeting, and the FDOC is working alongside Florida Citrus Mutual, FCPA, IFU and other groups to find the most effective path to request and make these changes. It will be a lengthy process, but the end result would allow our industry to grow in ways that keep us up-to-date and align us with the sciences and technologies that are playing an increasing role in how we plant and grow.

The fight against greening will always be a top priority, and being successful in that fight is the path to a prosperous future for our industry. New sciences and technologies, as well as continued research and breeding methods, are helping us within this fight, and creating trees that continue to yield high-quality citrus while being able to resist HLB is the top goal.

As we approach National Orange Juice Day on May 4, it’s important to remember the product that we in the Florida Citrus industry put on tables all across the world is of the highest quality, and amending the orange juice standards and classifications won’t shift that focus and priority, but it will help our growers and industry in a number of ways, which in turn benefits our communities.

Steve Johnson is Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission, which oversees the Florida Department of Citrus. He is the owner and general manager of Johnson Harvesting, Inc., based in Wauchula, FL.