Ag News

April vote gives citrus growers chance to fund commission

by Jennifer Whittaker

Posted on Mar 28, 2024 at 8:08 AM

From April 1-30, Georgia citrus producers can vote in a referendum to determine if they will fund the newly formed Georgia Citrus Commission. If growers pass the referendum, the commission will begin collecting a minimal assessment from citrus growers to carry out research, education and promotion projects coordinated by the commission to benefit the state’s newest commodity sector.  The commission consists of Georgia citrus growers.                                     

Last year Georgia citrus growers asked the Georgia legislature to pass legislation to create the Georgia Agriculture Commodity Commission for Citrus (Georgia Citrus Commission), which legislators did through House Bill 545. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law last year.

This commodity promotion act authorized the establishment of the Georgia Citrus Commission consisting of Georgia citrus growers. It gave the citrus commission authority to work with the Georgia Department of Agriculture to develop a marketing order to assess citrus fruit grown, packed and marketed in Georgia. The assessment funds collected by the Georgia Citrus Commission can only be used for the purpose of research projects to benefit the Georgia citrus sector, education projects (of growers or consumers) regarding Georgia citrus, and promotion of Georgia citrus products to consumers.                                                                                     

The Georgia Citrus Commission has set a priority of using assessment funds to support research projects conducted by the University of Georgia and USDA that address production issues Georgia citrus growers are facing, such as protecting orchards from diseases and insects, variety development, orchard fertility, and post-harvest issues.                                                                    

The members of the commission have set the assessment rate for the market order to  be no more than two tenths of a cent ($0.002) per pound of packed and marketed fruit. This applies to Georgia producers who market or have the potential to market 50,000 lbs. or more of citrus fruit annually.                        

Voting is April 1 – 30, 2024.  Ballots must be completely filled out and the back of the return envelope signed and postmarked by April 30. If you are a qualified Georgia citrus grower and did not receive a ballot, please contact Andy Harrison by calling 404-710-1196 or via email       

For the market order to be approved, 25% of the ballots sent to citrus growers must be returned and 66% (two-thirds) of the returned ballots must be yes votes. If approved, the marketing order will be in effect for three years. At the end of the three years, Georgia citrus growers would vote again to decide if they want to continue funding the citrus commission. If you are a qualified Georgia citrus grower and did not receive a ballot, please contact Andy Harrison by calling 404-710-1196 or via email     

Members of the Georgia Citrus commission include: Chairman Ken Corbett of Lake Park, Lindy Savelle of Ochlocknee, Landon Herring of Lake Park, Justin Jones of Leesburg and Jamie Patrick of Omega. Members of the Citrus Advisory Committee for the Citrus Commission are: Stephen Batten of Pearson, Delbert Davis of Pearson, Kyli Lamar-Brown of Sale City; Bill Renz of Statesboro; and Brent Strickland of Lakeland.  The initial commission members were appointed by the ex officio members of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commissions - Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper, Georgia Farm Bureau President Tom McCall, Russ Moon and Buddy Leger (since retired from position).  If/when the commission is funded citrus growers eligible to vote in the referendum will be able to nominate and vote on future commission members.                                                 

Through the years, Georgia farmers have asked the Georgia legislature to allow them to establish commodity commissions for the major crops and livestock produced in Georgia for the purpose of having an organized and equitable way to raise funds from the producers of a given commodity to conduct research, education and promotion projects to benefit their respective commodity sectors.

  • Categories:
  • Tags: