Future of fresh key part of Florida Citrus ShowFORT PIERCE, Fla. — The future of fresh citrus became a central topic at this year’s Florida Citrus Show.

In the conference welcoming address, Michel Sallin, president and chief executive officer of Vero Beach-based IMG Citrus Inc. and chairman of the Indian River Citrus League, said the fresh side of Florida’s citrus industry shows room for growth.

“The world is changing, especially the citrus world, which is changing very fast,” Sallin said.

“As you are all aware, the citrus industry is much smaller than what it used to be, but it’s still a big industry. This industry can grow again, and there are bigger opportunities on the fresh side.”

Michael Carlton, director of the labor relations division of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Maitland, updated growers on the industry’s fight for immigration reform.

“Very little is going on on the E-Verify front nationally,” Carlton said. “Everything is wrapped up with the elections and the economy. But there is this black cloud hovering over us, with Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is determined to get us an E-Verify bill. So we have to watch this closely.”

Carlton said Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) seems receptive to the industry’s concerns. Carlton said the industry understands Boehner doesn’t plan to advance the bill until agriculture “is taken care of.”

Kristian Moeller, managing director for GlobalGAP, Cologne, Germany, discussed how GlobalGAP standards should help reduce the number of grower audits.

“We are not here to develop a program, send it out to you, (say) ‘Now you need it, get it digested, and pay the check,’” he said.

Co-sponsored by the citrus league and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the Jan. 25-26 show offered grower-shippers an opportunity to visit with researchers and suppliers.