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C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0
Citrus Oral History Project Globalization Research Center University of South Florida Interview with: Sandford Hartt Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Sebring, Florida Date: May 9, 2005 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Wm. Mansfiel d [Tape 1, Side A.] Bill Mansfield: I always but a label on the disk by saying, This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Floridas Globalization Research Center talking with Mr. Sandford Hartt in the Agricultural Building in Sebring, Florida o n May 9, 2005. And Mr. Hartt, we always get people to start out by having them state their name and telling when they were born and where they were born. So let her go. Sandford Hartt: Sandford P. Hartt. I was born in Avon Park, Florida on February 21, 19 24. Mansfield: Okay, and tell me about your education. Hartt: Well, Im not highly educated. I attended the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Florida. I attended military school in my high school years [?Bowles?] Military Academy in Jacksonv ille, Florida. Mansfield: Okay. How did you get into the citrus industry? Hartt: Well I was born into it. Mansfield: Okay. Tell me about that.
2 Hartt: Well my family established citrus back in the 1900s. I was born on the property and after watching t he other people working in the groves, when I got to be ten years old my dad let me go to work by choice, not by force. [laughs] Mansfield: [laughs] Hartt: I always enjoyed working the citrus, so I started out at a pretty young age. Back in those days w e had some tractors parked around, but nobody knew how to keep them running. They were sitting under shade trees and we worked the groves with mules and wagons. Thats how we started out. Mansfield: So youve been raising oranges all of your life? Then yo ure a good man to talk to about this. And I always ask people to describe their current occupation. Hartt: Well, currently Im doing the same thing I was doing when I was ten years old. [laughs] Only, now, Im giving orders instead of taking them. Mansf ield: [laughs] So how would you describe yourself? An orange farmer? What would you call it? Hartt: Well, I [raise] citrus and cattle, about 50% in each, you might say of my investment. Its all on one property. The cattle land lies adjacent to the grove property. All though we do own some scattered lots around other areas, the primary property is at the ranch. Mansfield: About how much acreage do you have under Hartt: About ten thousand acres all together. About twelve hundred acres in citrus. Mansfie ld: My goodness, twelve hundred acres; thats a lot of oranges.
3 Hartt: We produce about ah close to half a million boxes. Some years more, some years less; according to how many storms and freezes we have in the mean time. Mansfield: Well are these orang es for juice or fresh? Hartt: I do raise fresh sometimes, according to where ever the market prevails. I would say that 90% of the time its juice. Mansfield: Thats what everybody has told me. [Juice oranges] are the biggest part of the Florida crop. H artt: Yeah, 90% of Florida oranges goes to juice. Mansfield: Of course everybody is talking about the tariff imposed on the Brazilian oranges. Hartt: That tariffs been in existence I got some facts from my, Highlands County Citrus organization. Accordi ng to the facts it says here that the tariff was first instituted, I believe, in the 1940s. [Looking through papers] (I cant put my eyes right on that figure. But I remember when I reading that.) And weve been having tariff battles ever since. 1947, wa it a minute. [looks through papers]. No, thats not exactly right. [Reads] The frozen concentrated orange juice citrus tariff was initiated with the passage of the Smoot Hawley Act in 1930. The Act imposes a tax of seventy cents per single strength equiva lence gallon on imported citrus juice. The Citrus Tariff remained unchanged until 1947, when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (thats GATT) talks occurred in Geneva, Switzerland. During the GATT discussions the Citrus Tariff was lowered to thirty five cents, per single strength equivalent gallon where it remains today. Weve been under attack all through the years, at different times by Congress and free trade enthusiasts. Of course there is nothing wrong with free trade. I agree with that too. We need free trade, but we need to do it on an equitable basis.
4 Mansfield: Yes, Ive heard people talk about the differences between free trade and fair trade. Hartt: Yes, fair trade. Keeping the playing field level, youve heard others [use that term]. Mansfield: Well back in when this first came up, what did you know about the tariff? Hartt: Very little, I was in the military service at that time. I didnt become familiar with that until quite a few years later. Mansfield: I always ask this of ev erybody, whats your opinion of the tariff? Hartt: Well, I think it would be devastating to the citrus grower [to loose the tariff]. I dont think it would be that bad, a negative, on the processors, because they would have more free access to Brazilian juice. Without the tariff they could buy it cheaper. Everybodys juice would be cheaper. But the tariff keeps the price up. By the way, the proceeds from the tariff go to the United States government, which is an asset to our budget problems in the govern ment. And due to the deficit we can surely use every dollar we can possibly get, especially from a foreign country. Mansfield: Youre the first person to mention that, but it does make sense, that the tariffs would go to the government. Hartt: It sure do es. Mansfield: I reckon you could say its better to tax the Brazilians than us. Hartt: [laughs] Thats exactly right.
5 Mansfield: But did I understand you to say that the processors are not as concerned about the tariff as the growers? Hartt: Im not a processor but I know thats who buys the foreign juice, coming in. And they blend it with Florida juice. If [the processors] could buy it cheaper, they would benefit. Mansfield: Okay. What do you foresee for the tariff? Do you think it will stay in plac e? Do you think it will be removed? Whats your prediction? Hartt: Well I really dont know. Im not really optimistic about our being able to retain it. Mansfield: How will it effect you if the tariff is removed? Hartt: I think if it were to be removed it would be removed gradually to give the industry an opportunity to adjust to the lower returns were going to be faced with. This is a nine billion dollar economic impact on the economy of Florida. Ninety thousand people are employed in citrus, either growers, or employees. So it would be a tremendous impact on the economy of Florida. Were the second largest industry in Florida behind ah tourism. And actually, in all fairness, if they were to include the timber industry and classify it as agriculture wed be number one in the state of Florida, as far as economic impact. But now they dont include timber; they only include the other aspects of agriculture. Mansfield: You say youre not optimistic about the tariff remaining in place, what makes you sa y that? Hartt: I look at the way the administration is going, dont get me wrong, Im a supporter of the Bush Family and him as president. But he is a strong free trader and hes made the statement that there would be no exemptions. The other industry th at Im familiar with
6 that was seeking an exemption was the timber industry in New England, to protect them against Canadian imports. President Bush has sent down the word that he was going to give them an exemption, but it met so much opposition in congres s that they dropped it. Another case was the steel industry. They were seeking an exemption. And we all know how the steel industry has been devastated, and they havent succeeded either. So thats what worries me about citrus. I dont know how much diff erently hes going to view our industry or any reasons he would choose to give us and exemption, when he hasnt granted it to anyone else, or the congress. Mansfield: What was it? Somebody I was talking to said that because of last years election he was very attuned to Floridas needs. Hartt: I started to mention that. Mansfield: What were you going to say? Hartt: Well, Jeb Bush is his brother, of course. Jeb was seeking re election and support. Weve been through a presidential election and George wa s in a mighty tight battle himself. I think those are favorable factors. The political aspect is favorable to us. But when they go out of office, their term expire and we face future administrations, its all up in the air again. Mansfield: What have you done to help effect the legislation to keep the tariff in place? Hartt: Well, Im on a first name basis with a couple of our representatives, Mark Foley and Adam Putnam. And I know the governor, Bush. And this subject always come up whenever Im in thei r presence. So what little impact or effect I might have, thats just about it, for me. Of course I contribute also to their campaigns and to the citrus organizations.
7 Mansfield: You [mentioned] Mr. Foley and Mr. Putnam, theyre state representatives? H artt: No, they are both United States Representatives. Mansfield: Oh, so theyre Congressmen up in Washington? Hartt: Yes. Mansfield: Well forgive me for asking that, but Ive only been in Florida since December. Theres still a whole lot for me to lear n. Hartt: It hasnt been too long ago that when President Bush was in route to Florida, he gave both of those representatives a ride. They told me later, and it came out in the paper, they spent the entire time of that flight, discussing this free trade a greement concerning citrus with the President. (Of course it wasnt that long of a flight, only a couple of hours.) But theyre insiders, both of them are Republicans. Mansfield: Would you care to share with me what they told you about that conversation? Hartt: They didnt tell me personally, anything. [What I know is] what I read in the paper. Mansfield: You said that you know them, and when you get the chance to speak with them you bring [the free trade legislation] up. Tell me what you Hartt: The pr esident didnt commit anything to them. They were presenting our arguments to the President. And they didnt get any negative response but they didnt necessarily come home with any promises. [laughs] Its tough.
8 Mansfield: [laughs] Yeah, I know. Politics its a slippery thing. A friend of mine says its like trying to grab a hand full of grease, the tighter you hold on to it, the less youve got in your hand. Hartt: [laughs] Mansfield: But when you talk to Mr. Foley or Mr. Putnam, what do you tell them about the tariff and its importance to Florida? Hartt: Well actually theyre more knowledgeable about it than I am. Both of them being Florida Representative. One of them represents Polk County, thats Putnam. Foley represents the East Coast, the Palm Bea ch area. Theyve been representatives for several years now, so they are fully knowledgeable about our problems here with the free trade agreement. Mansfield: But still, Id be interested to know, when you see them, what do you tell them? Hartt: I ask th em if theyve made any progress with the President and when theyve seen him. They met with him the last trip. They always have this as number one on their agenda, so they are pushing it. Theyre being supportive all the way through. In fact tonight Im g oing to a political gathering for Mr. Putnam up in Polk County, at his ranch. Theyve got a dinner planned for him. His supporters, of course, and other people in the area are invited. So well get a chance to have another run at it tonight, I guess. Mans field: Okay. Pretend that Im him for a minute. If I was him, what would you say to me? Hartt: [laughs] I have a whole page full of arguments here [shows document].
9 Mansfield: And this is from? Hartt: Highlands County Citrus Growers. [Reads from documen t] The question is why is citrus important to Florida and the United States? Well I think I mentioned this earlier, there is a nine million dollar impact. Seven hundred and fifty thousand acres of grove land is involved, rather they say Florida land. A ninety thousand man work force is involved. So that carries quite an economic impact. So Id be reminding the representative of this impact and hopefully theyd use that in their arguments to he President, or any other representative in congress. We nee d their votes to preserve our tariff. Mansfield: That information comes from the Highlands Hartt: Highlands County Citrus Growers Association. Mansfield: Do they have some sort of I dont know what to call it an education organization, or whatever, to help Hartt: Their position is very similar, if not identical to Florida Citrus Mutual. And thats a statewide organization of growers. I think there are eleven thousand of us, that belong to Mutual. And we have representative at these free trade agreemen t [meetings]. All of these facts were compiled and arguments were put together we try to strengthen then as we go. Mansfield: Is that to help you all what do they call those Hartt: To help us preserve our tariff. Mansfield: I was just thinking, are t hey talking points? Hartt: Yeah, youd call it that.
10 Mansfield: Just so when you speak to them, your arguments are more focused? Hartt: Yes. Mansfield: Tell me what else the Highlands Citrus Growers organization is doing to help protect, to help ke ep the tariff in place. Hartt: [looks through documents] The history of the United States OJ tariff, began in 1930 and its been a running battle all through the years, right down to the present. And every time they have a free trade discussion or rendezv ous anywhere in the world, this is always at the top of the agenda for the United State, to try and maintain this tariff. And of course weve got foreign countries that are trying to crack it, so they can get their imports in. Mansfield: But, I mean, the Highlands County group sent you this [refers to documents] to help you focus your arguments. Hartt: Yeah. Mansfield: But Im trying to get an understanding of the meetings that they have and what kind of input you would have into the efforts [to maintain the tariff]. Hartt: I would keep re iterating the facts Ive given you up to this point. Ninety percent of the worlds orange juice is produced in two locations, Florida and Brazil. [This makes] orange juice one of the most concentrated commodities in th e world, from a production standpoint. But Brazil has lower production costs because they dont have to deal with the bureaucracy Florida has to. We have environmental rules and regulations that we got comply with. Those are all expensive items. Florida gr owers rely on the orange juice tariff to level the playing field, to make our production costs equivalent to what [Brazils
11 is]. They get strong subsidies from their government. We dont get a nickel in subsidies from the United States Government. Brazils industry is heavily subsidized. If they eliminate the tariff it would put Florida growers out of business and give Brazil a monopoly on the world orange market. Relying on a Brazilian monopoly for an important food supply would not be in the best interes t of the United States consumers. And Im sure thats the point of the United States Government, is to lower to keep inflation down is to lower [the price] every food product in this country, including orange juice. And, in so doing, if they create a mono poly for Brazil, they havent lowered prices. In fact the result of a monopoly by Brazil would increase prices. Mansfield: What was it somebody was talking about? They said that Brazil could be the OJPEC of the world. Hart: Correct. [laughs] Mansfie ld: What about, like, this is Highlands Country [Citrus Growers Association] what about Florida Citrus Mutual? Hartt: Theres one difference in that OJPEC, is that people dont have to drink orange juice. Its a luxury. In the United States its more of a necessity, but in foreign countries its a luxury. People in foreign countries dont have refrigeration like we do in this country. And we havent got a juice that is stabilized enough to retain its flavor if its jus ton the shelf. Consequently, we dont have markets anywhere much but in the United States and Europe. The European community, and the United States is where 90% of the juice is sold. Mansfield: Thats what I was told, it takes a developed country to [enjoy orange juice]. Hartt: Underdevelop ed countries have very little use f or it, unless its in the fresh stage, like in fresh oranges. But you can imagine trying to ship fresh oranges overseas?
12 Mansfield: [laughs] Hartt: By ship would be the only economical way to do it. Some is probably flow n over fresh, to more affluent societies, like Japan. And Taiwan, I understand is a pretty good supporter of citrus. But those are isolated incidences. Mansfield: The idea of shipping fresh fruit, it wouldnt be fresh by the time it got there. Hartt: It wont be fresh when it got there and the cost would be too great. Mansfield: What about Florida Citrus Mutual? What are they doing in the effort [to protect the tariff]? Hart: Well, they have representatives at the free trade conferences. They are sitti ng there presenting what Ive said, tens times better than I can say it. Not being a negotiator or a professional at this, Im just looking at it from a producers standpoint. Mansfield: Thats why Im glad to be talking to you, cause I can get the slick talk from professionals all day long. So Im curious as to how Florida Citrus Mutual contacts you and involves you in this. Hartt: We have printouts, weekly from Mutual and from Highlands County Citrus Growers. They printed up a pamphlet every week to ke ep us fully informed. They do a terrific job of that. Mansfield: So they send out the information, but what about getting feed back from you? Ideas and suggestions? Hartt: Oh yeah, they have representatives sitting there waiting for phone calls. Mansfi eld: Have you called them?
13 Hartt: If I see negative adds coming across the television I get on the telephone and tell them about it. If they dont know it, they cant oppose it. Mansfield: Can you think of an example where that has happened? Hartt: Oh y eah, sometimes these adds come on, like uh the Cranberry Institute will say, Cranberry juice is more healthy than orange juice. They advertise against us to promote their product. I havent seen that one in a long time, but thats the kind of add Im tal king about. And then the other day, it was from some university, and theyd carried out experiments. And they even said, a ridiculous statement, that coffee was more healthy than orange juice. Can you imagine anything so ridiculous? But if Mutual doesn t hear of these things they cant make any move to combat it, through their advertising. So part of what we have to face is negative advertising by other industries. Mansfield: So when you saw that commercial you called? Hartt: I called in to Mutual and told them what I saw and what station I saw it on and what time it was aired. Then they can get around to doing something about countering it. If you dont counter a negative ad, if its not protested, its liable to stick. Mansfield: Yeah, a lot of time s if people hear it on TV they assume that its true. Hartt: Oh thats a fact. Yeah. Mansfield: What about other [stumbles over his words] Blah! I cant talk this afternoon. What about instances other than advertising, where you have offered ideas and su ggestions to Citrus Mutual?
14 Hartt: Well, the advertising is probably the biggest factor I can think of where I would be involved in it. Our research and development comes from more technical source. They have a research department at the University of Fl orida and the Feds [Department of Agriculture] have a research institute in Orlando. A lot of the research, as far as grove care, and control of insects and those types of things, there is no way to contest that you pretty well have to accept it. They com e out with best management practices. Like the levels of fertilize that you should use and sometimes If you dont agree with that, and there has been a lot of protests about the recommended levels of fertilizer. Sometimes I think the experiment stations a re looking at as whats best for the environments standpoint, rather than whats best for the citrus production standpoint. We might have different interests there. Im looking for top production and they are looking for top protection of the environment and then those recommendations causes them to clash with what wed prefer to do, for best grove care. In that way, sometimes the statements get contested. Weve had a lot of friction over the proper level of nitrogen to be used in citrus care. They call that BMPs, thats Best Management Practices. Thats what that stands for. As a result of the storms [the Hurricanes of 2004] they have come across raising those best management practice levels, because they realize the groves have been damaged by the hurr icanes. Theyve relaxed their recommendations, or the limits placed on the use of nitrogen fertilizer, to try and bring the groves back to standard again. Mansfield: Ive read about the canker controversy, to destroy trees within so many feet of a canker infected tree. Hartt: Id say 99 and 9/10% of the growers would agree with the canker program. They have a nineteen hundred foot buffer zone they like to establish around canker out breaks. Most growers would approve of that. If they didnt approve, they d want more. But I think nineteen hundred feet is a pretty safe margin. A lot of individuals, like people who have back yard citrus [trees], they dont like having to destroy their trees, if they dont have canker with in the neighborhood, or down
15 the st reet a little ways. If its nineteen hundred feet away they say, Hell, thats so far out of my district, its not reasonable. And theyve been to court over it. I think its Palm Beach County, or Dade County or Broward County. One of those three countie s down there, that have given us some trouble. But weve prevailed in court. So now theyre back to pulling and cutting trees with in the nineteen hundred foot range. Mansfield: What about the Department of Florida Citrus? How do they figure into the deb ate? Hartt: They have an experiment station at Lake Alfred. In fact I used to be employed there. I did learn something there, I guess, about the technical production of citrus. Mansfield: What about the legislative aspect of it [citrus production]. What are they doing to maintain the protective tariff? Hartt: I really dont think they are getting involved in it much, the Experiment Station. Mansfield: I was thinking about the whole Department of Citrus, in general. Hartt: I think youd think more of t he Department of Citrus is the old Citrus Commission. Theyre another collaborating well not collaborating. Theyre another organization that parallels Mutual in fact they have offices in the same building. Then the more isolated and smaller version of tha t is what we have here in Highlands County, the Highlands County Citrus Growers [Association]. They all have the same objectives, but the Florida Department of Citrus its not a state organization. Although it is authorized by the state to levy taxes (tha ts where they get their support), and the directors are appointed by the governor, its a self controlled organization. Its funded by growers; so I never really thought of it as a state organization. Mansfield: Or a government organization.
16 Hartt: It s not a government organization. But we operate under government guidelines. Mansfield: Ive read about this lawsuit, people are suing the Department of Citrus about the Hartt: They feel that the box tax is unreasonable. One reason I dont think its fa ir either. All of this juice comes in from Brazil to the processors. And they blend it with our juice and then we pay all the tax. They havent got anyway, or method of taxing Brazilian growers, for Brazilian juice coming in, except the tariff. And that do esnt go to the Florida Department of Citrus, that goes to the Federal Governments budget. Our money comes from growers. Thats what we do all of our advertising with. So were advertising Brazilian juice right along with our juice. I dont think anybody would say that they consider that as being fair. So they are petitioning the government to relieve them of that tax burden, the box tax. Mansfield: Just from what youve said makes me think that you would be in favor Hartt: Id be in favor of getting m y box tax relief. Mansfield: Ive also read that, that would spell the end of the Department of Florida Citrus. Hartt: Well, thats possible. It might have to be reorganized into another organization thats I dont know how we would arrange for the fund ing. It would have to be smaller but the money more specifically directed to advertising, which is what the reason were being taxed. I think there is a lot of waste there. Mansfield: Ive read things very similar to that.
17 Hartt: Travel. Funds being misa ppropriated. Over payment of salaries. I understand there are only two people in the Department of Citrus that arent making under a hundred thousand dollars. One of them is the janitor [laughs] and the other ones the custodian. Everybody else in that fac ility is making one hundred thousand dollars. Mansfield: Perhaps I should put my application in. Hartt: The last two directors have been relieved for misappropriation [of funds]. Mansfield: People have told me about attempts to sort of control the produ ction of orange juice. I dont know exactly what to call it but, they proposed a holding section for years of over production. What do you know about Hartt: I wouldnt agree with that. Mansfield: But youve heard about it? Hartt: You know Ive heard about it. That smacks of production controls, thats what it is. If they can control your production they can also control your price. They cant just turn you loose with production with out controlling your price. Other agricultural industries function under that set up. Corn is being controlled and peanuts, maybe cotton, Im not sure. Mansfield: They had something similar to that in tobacco too. Hartt: And to tobacco too. Citrus has never had that. In my case Id surely be against Federal controls. W eve always managed to operate without it and Id rather let the natural forces of supply and demand control our industry, rather than governmental control.
18 Mansfield: Well this man I was talking to was telling me about it. It would be controlled by the g rowers and they would take surplus in boom years and hold it against shortages. From what everybody tells me, in years of shortage, the price goes up. Hart: Thats true. Mansfield: And then over production brings the price down. This would be something t o sort of level that out. Hartt: There are tank farms that hold millions of gallons [of orange juice], even up in New Jersey and New England, they have tank farms. Thats where over production is being stored. And when there is a short supply, then they use those reserves. Thats being done already through the natural forces of supply and demand. So I dont know if wed benefit by government control or control by growers. Im not really well versed in that idea. But it if was control by the government Id definitely be against it. Mansfield: Well he said that nobody could come to any kind of agreement, so the idea never went anywhere. Hartt: I really dont think it would. Mansfield: The Florida Citrus Commission and the Department of Florida Citrus are one in the same? Hartt: Yes, They changed the name. I guess they though theyd clean it up that way. [laughs] Mansfield: Did they have any luck?
19 Hartt: I dont know. Our last director just retired. And the one before him had to retire under fire. And then they went and got a guy who had been the director a few years back and rehired him. So its sort of in turmoil. Mansfield: It seems like the whole Florida citrus industry is in turmoil. Hartt: Weve been in the doldrums, price wise. We sold juice, r ather fruit, for the earlies went for sixty cents last year. The Valencias, which is our premium crop, I think was selling for about seventy five cents a pound solid. My dad told me, years ago that the only way that citrus in Florida survives is through disaster. If we dont have a freeze or dont have a hurricane, or a devastating drought, we dont have any price. And its just about been that way. [laughs] Mansfield: [laughs] I dont know what to make of that, the only time its good is when its bad. Hartt: [laughs] If youre lucky enough to survive the storms and the freezes then you get a pretty decent price for your juice. In the meantime youd better tighten your belt. Mansfield: People have told me about the different ways of selling you juice, what long term contracts and cash market? Hartt: At times like these, when prices have been bad for several years, the long term contracts sort of have a tendency to disappear. Its only when the prospects are bright that these processors go out and sig h these long term contracts with growers. And then, if you have a long range contract and the market slips into a slump for any length of time, those contracts run out and they dont get renewed. Thats about the way it is. Mansfield: How do you sell you fruit?
20 Hartt: I sell mine through sometimes through bird dogs, which are guys out buying fruit and delivered to the processors. Or [I sell] directly to the processors. At the present Im selling directly to a processor. I sell to Cargill. Mansfield: But bird dogs are? Hartt: Bird dogs are independent buyers and they have their own harvesting equipment. They have a following of growers that they go back to every year and buy their fruit. Then they turn around and sell to the processors. Mansfield: But se lling directly to the processors, is that the same as a long term contract? Hartt: Oh yeah. If contracts are available you can do it that way, or you can sell it year by year, according to changes in the market. Mansfield: And whats your preference? Ha rtt: Well I like long range contracts if you can get a decent contract, one in your favor. Ive sold to Tropicana on long range contracts, but at the present time Im just selling year to year. Mansfield: What, they told me there was a box contract and a grove contract? Hartt: You can sell X number of boxes, like I want to sell one hundred thousand boxes. If my grove is producing one hundred thousand boxes I can sell them and call it a production contract. So if the grove produces more that year thats still how many theyll take. Theyll take what ever the grove can do. Or if it produces less, theyll take that. But if you sell specifically X number of boxes, you pretty well committed to selling them that many boxes.
21 If youve got a box contract and your grove suffers a freeze or some disaster, and your grove only seventy five thousand boxes, theyre going to come ask you for the other twenty five thousand boxes. You got to go buy from another grower or buy on the open market to fill you contract. So I dont like the box contract and most people would prefer the grove contract. They call that a production contract. Mansfield: Seems like with the box contract youd be setting yourself up for trouble. Hartt: Youd be setting yourself up. Mansfield: S ome other people have tried to explain, but its not taken. Could you explain the cash market? How does that work? Hartt: Well, when the season has already begun and I havent sold my fruit yet, Ill be sitting back waiting for the cash market to reach a point that I can sell where Id be happy with the price. Thats pretty much what the cash market is. Mansfield: So youre acting as more of an independent? Hartt: Yes, youre independent thats for sure. Youre not tied to anybody and youre just sittin g there holding your fruit waiting for the cash market reach a point where you want to sell it. It can go high or it can go low. Youre just taking that gamble. Mansfield: So when youre selling on the cash market there is more risk involved? Hartt: Yeah Anytime you sell fruit, you cant get around the risk. The only way to avoid risk is with a long range contract. And then its not always something youd be happy with, because if there is a shortage in production and the price goes high, youre stuck wi th that long range price and you just have to live with it. [laughs] Mansfield: Sounds like a crapshoot, not matter which way you go.
22 Hartt: Anyway you look at it. Those that had long range contracts when the storm hit, were selling for whatever their ca sh price was, say a dollar a pound. And now the price has gone to a dollar thirty a pound. They lost out on that. But then the year before, when it was a seventy five [cents pounds solid] they were benefiting cause they were getting a dollar. So the long range prices, if youre satisfied with a moderately good long range contract, then youd do all right. It takes a lot of the worry, frustration and stress out of it, cause you know what youre going to get and there is no need to worry about it. Mansfiel d: It sounds like a pretty stressful occupation anyhow. Hartt: Well, you kind of get used to it. If you dont you dont stay in the business too long. Mansfield: This is a question that is off the track of tariff policy and government regulation, but wha t is it about raising oranges that appeals to you? Hartt: I like working outside and like to grow things. I have an instinct for watching things grow and doing it successfully is always gratifying. And there is something about growing objects is a little bit different from manufacturing objects. So Ive just having been involved in it all my life, Ive learned to love it. Mansfield: It seems like it would be satisfying, but I dont know if I could stand the risk. Hartt: [laughs] You need to develop a ca sh flow, so that you dont have to worry about paying the bills. Mansfield: People have told me and I have read that growers need to cut their expenditures in order to stay in business. What have you done?
23 Hartt: Well you have to always have that in the back of your mind. Cutting costs, youre thinking about that everyday. Try to shop around and find where you can buy your fertilized cheaper. And when you get ready to sell your fruit, talk to a lot of people to find out where there might be an extra few d ollars in the price. And when youre buying equipment you got to do the same thing, shop for good prices. At the same time, when youre buying products like spraying materials, fertilizers or herbicides, you always want to check the prices with different p eople so you know youre getting the best bargain thats out there. At the end of the day, youll end up saving some money that way. Mansfield: What about the move towards mechanical harvesting? Some people have said that can be the salvation of Floridas citrus industry. Hartt: Ive done some talking to some people and, in fact, Collier was planning on doing some mechanical harvesting in this season were in right now. But they had gone to Argentina to buy machines that they thought were superior to any thing they could buy around here. But the whole thing just kind of faded a way into the sunset, it never happened. So there have bee a lot of effort in that direction, but now real progress. Theyve got a good machine that will clean the trees real well an d get the fruit on the ground, but getting up off the ground is another problem. It requires hand labor all over again, so mainly what youve gained is getting it off the tree, and thats good. But then youve got to bring your workers in again, to get it up of the ground. But theyve got catch basins that can be pulled along under the trees as the harvesting machine moves forward. But that is a problem they havent got quite worked out yet. I think they will, they just havent reached that point yet, a rea l workable catch basin. Okay, so now you got it in the basin. How are you going to get it in your conveyer? The machine, your truck or wagon, that you use to haul the fruit out of the grove. You got to get it off the tree, onto the ground, up off of the gr ound and in to the wagon again. So its complicated. They havent come up with a machine, yet that can do all of those three things and do it efficiently enough to even make it worth while.
24 Mansfield: When it comes time to harvest your groves, do you do t hat yourself or do you hire it out? Hartt: No, I have professional harvesters. They haul and harvest. The people Im with now, this is my third year with them and theyve done a real good job. Mansfield: One of the things Ive read about in this notion o f trade regulation, is that the labor to harvest the oranges Hartt: Its a big problem. Mansfield: Because a lot of it has been coming from Mexico. Its a commodity, just like oranges. Hartt: Im glad we got on this subject, because I dont like the ide a of open boarders where illegals come flooding across. But theyre coming across to do these kind of jobs were talking about. When I was a little kid we mainly had white pickers, with a few blacks. Then it gradually mutated into all blacks. And now its mutated into all Mexican or Haitian. All off shore people, because Americans dont want to do it any more. The American whites or the American blacks, just dont want to do that kind of work. So we do have a heavy reliance on people coming across the boar der. Regardless of how they get here, whether they come legally or illegally. I guess because of the lack of knowledge, they figure they cant get here legally, or get here fast enough to do what they want to do, so they come across [the boarder] illegally Doesnt cost them anything and all they can do is get sent back home. Then thirty days later they can come back again. But there is a solution I think and I cant understand why the administration allows these open boarders to exist. I think we could do it with a green card, which was used quite a few years back. They come across and theyd make them legal by photographs and fingerprints. Give then their green card and they can come here for six months. Then, when theyve earned their money and done thei r job, they can go home.
25 Take the money with them and comeback next year. That way, weve got them documented and we know where they are and what they are doing. If they break the law or anything we can go get them and have them arrested, send them back or whatever. But like it is now, when they come across the boarder, they bring grand parents and little babies, people that dont even come here to work. They come her to take advantage of our system, which is hospitals, emergency rooms, social security sys tem, welfare of all kinds. They put a stress on our city, county and state governments. More so in the boarder state than here, but still there is a stress on our economy too. Because these illegals arent paying their share, paying their way. They use fa ke social security cards and they do take out for that. Of course they never get that money back. A lot of them are working under fake cards. I think its a bad situation. I really worry about it for fear that terrorists will come slipping across with the rest of the wetbacks from Mexico, or from whatever country. Mansfield: A lot of people say the Mexicans, but like you said, there are Haitians, people from Central America. Hartt: And an Arab can disguise himself as a Mexican, mighty easily. He could b e bringing munitions in his suitcase instead of clothes. Mansfield: What do you think is the future of Floridas citrus industry? Hartt: well, I think if a lot [End Tape 1, Side A. Begin Tape 1, Side B.] Hartt: of it hinges on what happens with tha t tariff. If you knock thirty cents the tariff is whatd I say? Mansfield: Thirty five cents?
26 Hartt: No, the tariff on Brazilian juice is twenty nine cents a pound. If you knock twenty nine cents a pound off the price were getting, wed still be in the ninety cent area, we could survive with that. But this is an unusual year, following the hurricane. Before the storm it was at seventy five cents. You knock twenty nine cents off of seventy five and thats about forty five, isnt? You cant break even at f orty five cents. So even those people that have a good cash flow, theyre not just going to sit there and lose money every year. They are going to think of something else to do. Theyre going to develop their land. Right now were in a climate where you can sell your land for development. And there are a lot of citrus areas that dont have that opportunity. But right here in Sebring, this is a growing area and luckily, we could sell our land for other purposes. Which I dont choose to do right at the mome nt, because I enjoy doing what I am doing. But if it gets to where you cant break even with citrus then you got to consider other alternatives. Mansfield: People have said that the pressure for development is just one of the other problems confronting th e citrus grower. Hartt: Yeah, it is. As you drive down the highway, youll see people now that arent fertilizing their groves. Their groves are turning yellow, weeds are growing up in them. Theyre just not taking care of them. But they have other things in mind. They think, Hell, its a lot easier to develop than to try to produce citrus. Especially if youre not making any money at it. Mansfield: In talking about the lobbying efforts that is going on for the citrus tariff, the growers are obviously working to keep it in place. Can you think of anybody that working to have the tariff removed? I mean the free traders, obviously. Hartt: Who are we fighting against, is you question? Mansfield: Yes. The adversaries.
27 Hartt: The adversaries would be t he ah I think it would be a person of a liberal political out look that believes in loving the economic status of the world. They want the whole world to be functioning under the same conditions. And they feel like its unfair that the United States is a we althy country. That the people of Brazil ought to have this and the people of Mexico should have it. You cant take away from us. Its going to lower our standards, if we begin to support foreign peoples economies. Our economy here cant stay at the pre sent level if free trade is practiced without restrictions worldwide. Mansfield: Thats looking at the political outlook. Hartt: The political out look is, people who want to standardize the economies of all foreign countries, to be equal or better than the United States. Mansfield: No, earlier on you mentioned something about the processors, [they] dont care where they get their juice. I was just wondering if you perceived them as possible adversaries? Hartt: I dont think I really wouldnt want to sa y that. I think they might benefit but Im not really sure theyd be working against us. Maybe they are, because a lot of our processors owned by Brazil. Their people have come up here and bought our processing plants. Mansfield: I think a quarter of the plants [are owned by Brazilian interests]. Hartt: Thats sort of clue isnt it? That they could be working against us on that. Tropicana, of course, is domestic its owned by Americas. Cargill is a world organization. They own plants in all countries. Al though, Cargill isnt American family, its a family owned organization. Citrus World is still owned by growers. Its a grower owned organization. But those are the only three I can name, off hand. The rest of them have sold out to Brazilians.
28 Mansfield: I whish I could remember who was telling me this, but they said they felt there would be a contraction in the Florida citrus industry. That some of the smaller growers will be getting out? Hartt: I think so. As the noose tightens, those growers who arent as well funded will just decide, Hell, Ill just sell to a developer. Ill quite taking care of my grove and maybe Ill be able to pick oranges for two or three years. After that Ill, bush it and sell it to a home builders or developers, or speculators. Then there is this canker disease, thats taken out a lot of citrus. Some of those people may say, Im too old to try and plant my grove back. Im just not going to do it. I dont have any family that wants to do it, so Im just going to get out . You ll have some of that. Thats from disease. Then this storm has damaged a lot of storms. In some of then, 70% to 80% of the tress are blown over. A lot of those people wont try and come back. So there are different factors at work against the industry. F or the high production levels weve been seeing, we may see a natural reduction in production of Florida citrus. Just through the normal attrition of those figures we just mentioned. Mansfield: When I think about the industry contracting; I think about th e nursery people that grow the tree. Hartt: Yeah, I think about them. Theyre planting all these huge acreage of young trees and nobody there to buy them. Mansfield: Then there is the equipment manufactures. Hartt: The equipment manufacturers, yeah and the tractor companies that sell the tractors. Mansfield: It seems like a big ripple effect that reaches out, beyond
29 Hartt: This figure we have had here where, ninety thousand people are involved in this [citrus]. The states second largest employer, af ter tourism. It involves nine billion dollars of income every year. So as it contracts its going to hurt in a lot of different departments: gas stations, car agencies, related industries (like chemical companies, fertilize plants), parts houses, restauran ts, grocery stores, right on down the line. Mansfield: Like I said, for good or for ill, its an exciting time, for Florida citrus. Hartt: Yeah, it sure is. Mansfield: Well, Ive been throwing questions at you for the past hour. Is there anything you wa nt to tell me about that I havent asked about? Hartt: Well, Ive belly ached about the free trade agreement, enough to put my point across, I guess, about whats going to happen to us if the Bush Administration signs on with the Agreement of the Americ as, I believe they call it. But I think were pretty safe with the Bush administration. I hate to call him a lame duck president, but hes only got abut three more years to go. And Governor Bush, we got him for about two more years, so I think were safe throug h that period. I cant say wed be safe under another republican president, or if it would be worse if w had a Democrat. Both parties seemed to be signed on to this thing. Everybodys got free trade hung up in their craw and thats what they want and that s the way they are pushing it. Look at the shoe industry. You cant buy a pair of shoes that arent made in a foreign country. And that shirt youre wearing. And your automobile. I bought a tractor the other day that was made in France. Its a John Deer, manufactured in France. Mansfield: I always thought John Deer was an American firm? Hartt: They are, but theyve got factories in foreign countries. All of our factories are going to foreign countries because of organized labor, for one thing. You know t hats
30 something we havent dealt with yet. But I think organized labor is partially responsible for this free trade kick were on right now. Mansfield: How so? Hartt: Moving away from it, going to foreign countries where they dont have organized labor. They get cheap labor. The Mexicans arent organized and over in Taiwan, and China, they dont deal with that. The products come here cheaper. Keeps down inflation. Im sure thats what the politicians think also. They are not necessarily free traders so mu ch as they want to be successful in keeping inflation down. And weve done a good job of that. This country is not suffering from inflation a very low level of it. And I think the fact that our industries are moving off shore and sending these products bac k here and we can buy them cheaper, is keeping down inflation. But with citrus, its a different story. If you give Brazil this business, theyll have a monopoly because its not produced anywhere else. Only Mexico and a small amount in Cuba and a very sma ll amount in Israel, but little pockets of production, here and there. (Like California still has some production.) But mainly, its Brazil. Brazil and the United States, theyre two thirds of it and were the other third, except for these other small pock ets. If our industry is lost to Brazil, theyll have a monopoly. And you know what happens when you have a monopoly? When its a monopoly they set their own damn price and youve got to live with it. Mansfield: They charge what they want. Well, Ive as ked all the questions I brought with me to ask and youve done a go od job o f answering them. I truly appreciate that. Hartt: [laughs] Mansfield: I always tell everybody that the information youve shared with me will be deposited at the Special Collection s of the Universitys library and be available for future researchers to look at.
31 Hartt: Sure. Mansfield: And in order for them for them to have access to it I have a release form that I have to ask you to sign. Hartt: Sure. I wouldnt mind signing it. I didnt reveal any secrets. Mansfield: [laughs] Also Ive been photographing everybody Ive interviewed, so do you mind if I take your picture? Hartt: Yeah. Mansfield: Okay great. Again let me say thank you for letting me talk to you. Hartt: Yeah, youre welcome Bill. Mansfield: Let me turn this thing off. [End of interview.]
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interviewed by William Mansfield.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (58 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Florida citrus oral history project
The interview focuses on Hartt's view of lobbying efforts, maintaining the tariff, and the lawsuit against the Florida Department of Citrus. Hartt expresses concern about national security, production cost, and immigrant labor.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted May 9, 2005, in Sebring, Fla.
Citrus fruit industry
Tariff on oranges.
Florida Citrus Commission.
Dept. of Citrus.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
University of South Florida.
Globalization Research Center.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS