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BARTOW, Fla. – The advisory committee formed to help guide scientific research efforts at the Florida Department of Citrus met for the first time Thursday to discuss how the group would proceed.

The Scientific Research Advisory Committee is made up of growers, processors, packers and Florida Citrus Commissioners.

Created after a review of the Scientific Research Department found a need for more guidance from the industry, the advisory committee’s mission is to advise the Florida Citrus Commission on all matters related to scientific research at the FDOC. Those matters include prioritization of research, internal and external research projects, budget and industry needs.

The committee elected Commissioner V.C. Hollingsworth, president of VCH Management, as chair and Kevin Gaffney, a senior manager of research development at Florida’s Natural, as vice chair.

The remaining members appointed at the Oct. 22 meeting of the Florida Citrus Commission are Commissioner Mike Haycock, vice president of manufacturing at Tropicana; Hugh English, retired grower; Tom Mitchell, of Riverfront Packing Company; Pat Schirard, president of Indian River Select; Emery Smith, of Ben Hill Griffin Inc.; and Tim Anglea, of the Coca-Cola Company.

Discussion Thursday revolved around the committee’s desire to understand the scientific research currently underway at the department as well as historical research findings on the health and wellness of Florida Citrus – an area the department has been tasked with focusing on.

“We need to look at the last 50 or 60 years of research and see what’s there and determine what is still defensible in 2014-15,” Schirard said. “Then we can begin to develop a series of messages that are well documented and well researched and push them out to the world.”

The group expects to meet again in December.