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interviewed by William Mansfield.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (70 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Florida citrus oral history project
The interview focuses on the history of citrus cultivation in both Brazil and Florida, the economics of raising citrus, and mechanical harvesting.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted June 18, 2005, in Lake Alfred, Fla.
Citrus fruit industry
Citrus fruit industry
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
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: Ron Muraro Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Lake Alfred, Florida Date: June16, 2005 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: Wm. Mansfie ld [Tape 1, Side A.] Bill Mansfield: I always put a label on the disc by saying; This is Bill Mansfield from the University of South Floridas Globalization Research Center, on the Citrus Oral History Project talking to Dr. Ron Muraro Ron Muraro: Its just Ron Muraro. Im not a doctor. Muraro: Mansfield: Okay, Ron Muraro, on June 15, 2005. In the University Floridas Experimental Station in Lake Alfred, Florida. And we always get people to start off by having them state their name and telling us when th ey were born and where they were born. So, Let her go. Muraro: My name is Ron Muraro. I was born January 3, 1946 in Leesburg, Florida. Thats in Lake County. Mansfield: Tell me about your education, if you dont mind. Muraro: I have an Associate of Art s Degree from what is now Lake Summpter Community College, then a Bachelors and a Masters degree, in agricultural economics from the University of Florida. Mansfield: How would you describe your current occupation?
2 Muraro: My current occupation is, I a m a professor and Extension economist, working in the area of citrus; where I collect and compile cost information from the grower, production level, harvesting, packinghouse and sometimes processing, for the citrus industry. [I] also do similar comparativ e costs with some of the other major citrus producing countries. Mansfield: How did you get in to working with citrus? Muraro: I grew up on a small citrus farm. It was interesting for me and I continued on with it as an interest. An opportunity came for me to work back with the University, in extension education, in this area. Mansfield: That must be great, to have grown up with [citrus] and them be able to continue to work with it. I guess with the crisis that citrus is in these days, its comfortable not to be dependant on the sale of your oranges. I dont know. But thats what this project is about, the impact of free trade legislation on Floridas citrus industry and the growers response to that. So tell me, if you can, about the legislation, speci fically the Free Trade of the Americas Act and the possibility that the protective tariff will be removed. Talk to me about the Brazilian orange juice giant and how that would Muraro: From what I understand of the proposed legislation, or the tariff i s that it will be a trade agreement similar to, Ill refer to NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], now what theyre talking about is CAFTA [Central American Free Trade Agreement], for the entire Americas, particularly the countries of South America They are looking at eliminating the tariffs in most of the trading commodities, or other products which they have between the countries. Mansfield: Now, how is CAFT related to the Free Trade of the Americas Act?
3 Muraro: I dont exactly know how its re lated to it except that it is another free trade agreement. It encompasses the Central American countries and some countries in the Caribbean. Mansfield: Does it contain the same legislation as the Free Trade Americas Act? Muraro: I dont know. Mansfie ld: Okay. Muraro: I dont know any specifics on it. Mansfield: Okay. I always tell people I rather them say, I dont know than try and make something up. Thats when we get in trouble. How has the Brazilian orange juice exports effected Floridas orange juice production? Muraro: Well, this is something, which you may have also been told in discussions with other people. But in the 80s, with multiple freezes we had a reduction in production. Brazil was actually benefited to help us retain out North Amer ican market by supplying us juice. As we recovered in our production and beginning the early 90s, when all of the new plantings from the mid to late 80s started producing fruit. Then a world supply situation came in juice, where historical prices. From the early 80s through approximately (it depends on a few years there) from 1982 to 1991 92 we were in historical prices. Mansfield: W hen you say historical prices you mean? Muraro: High. Historically high prices. The two states of San Palo, Brazil and Florida represent about 80%, 85% of the total worlds production of orange juice. At that point
4 the large supply of juice resulted in low to moderate prices. Depending on the season, the Brazilians imported more or less. I forgot what year it was, but one year in the mid 80s, Brazil that Brazil actually supplied 50%, maybe a little bit more of the total juice sold in the US. It dropped back substantially once we got into the 90s and it varied on seasonally at that point and Im not sure what the percenta ge was, but it was much less. As Florida got larger crops we became more able to actually supply almost all of the North American juice. Therefor Brazil imported less. They focused in the 90s to develop the European market and thats their predominate mar ket. They are trying to expand into the eastern European countries and the Asian markets as well. Mansfield: But arent they also trying to continue in the North American market? Muraro: Oh yes. They are importing to the North American market. It is sor t of an as need or seasonal basis when they bring fruit in, juice in, I should say. Mansfield: From everybody Ive talked to and what Ive read people in Florida feel if that protective tariff is eliminated that Brazil will be able to produce juice for less than it costs in Florida and just flood the Florida and North American market with orange juice. Muraro: Well first of all, the cost of producing citrus in Brazil, compared to Florida is much less. Im trying to think of the numbers. (I should have t hem in front of me but I dont.) They are the low cost producer in the world of orange juice. They have developed the delivery system through tanker ships, to deliver juice in a bulk form anywhere in the world, at a low cost. What these newer ships, that C itrosuco and Cutrale have brought on line in the last two years [have made Brazil] even more cost effective in the past two years, because of the larger volume, compared to the cost. The unit cost has gone down substantially. And being able now to be more cost competitive in delivering Not From Concentrate [orange juice] which had been primarily a Florida product. Mansfield: Thats the fresh orange juice, right?
5 Muraro: Its pasteurized, but its not from concentrate. Its ready to serve. Mansfield: And they can ship that these tankers? Muraro: Yes. Mansfield: Do they refrigerate it? Muraro: Its refrigerated, yes. But theyre designed to handle NFC [Not From Concentrate] product. But with the tariff, the tariff provides enough of a cushion to offset most of the cost difference of the production, processing, hauling, delivering and delivering to the US. The major difference in the cost has been with harvesting. And and where the last numbers we have (were trying to up date these) but the cost differ ence was two dollars a box [for] harvesting in Florida. [It cost ] maybe fifty, sixty cents in Brazil. Mansfield: Wow. Muraro: Thats delivered to the processing plant. [It includes] removal of the fruit from the trees and put on the trucks and delivering to the processor. Mansfield: Thats a pretty significant savings. Muraro: Yes. And the devaluation that occurred, oh five or six years ago in Brazil, of their currency to US dollars also impacted the cost, reducing in dollar terms in the total comparison costs. Mansfield: So its just that much less expensive for Brazil to produce the juice. Muraro: Yes. And much of that is built into the labor costs.
6 Mansfield: How, Im trying to think. What has Floridas citrus industry dome to keep that tariff in pl ace? I know that the free trade legislation wants to remove it. But [the growers] are trying to keep it there. So how have they organized to keep it in place? Muraro: The major grower organizations, Florida Citrus Mutual, taking the lead, have pulled tog ether to ah I want to say to, to provide information to our state legislatures, the President (since its his program) and the Trade Representatives for the FTAA. [They are pointing out] the reasons why [the tariff] is beneficial to Florida growers [and] U S producers of orange juice. What they are focusing on is to have the tariff retained. Mansfield: So it is essentially an education campaign to these people, to make they understand why its good for Florida? Muraro: Yes. Mansfield: So why would it? Wha t are they telling them? Muraro: What theyre telling them is, with out the tariff the cost benefit to the Brazilian juice being imported (and thats what we need to look at) would be ah The cost difference between Florida juice going to the market and Brazilian juice imported, with out the tariff, would make the competitiveness and price and returns much less. The concern is a major contraction in the size of the Florida industry. Mansfield: With out the tariff, Florida citrus would really suffer and a lot of people would go out of business? Muraro: Very likely. Mansfield: Okay. So how does that benefit every one? Oh Im not asking question very well. They are telling them; without the tariff Florida citrus growers are going to go under. And I suppo se they are telling them, If they cant compete, thats what they
7 deserve. So what would [the growers] say beyond that? Why beneficial to keep Florida citrus in play? Muraro: Well, as an economic impact study has shown, Florida citrus contributes aroun d nine billion dollars to the state economy. This particular year, that we just past, was somewhat less because of the impacts of the hurricanes and reduction of production. But prices were somewhat better and there was some cushioning of that. But thats a value that was generated by the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida. It has a ripple effect, going through the state economy. Particularly where the more rural counties where much of the citrus is grown. The suppliers, the fertilizer, the chemical suppliers, the equipment suppliers and others associated. Not only with direct employment, within the industry but also the local and particularly smaller rural communities and counties. How will it impact them? It can impact the economic assessment for the county, the basis of value there. It would Im trying to think. Those are the major issues in the concern there. Another thing there is it would also have an impact on the land and grove value. If prices and returns decrease s ubstantially and you have a major capital investment, which being a tree crop takes fifteen to twenty years. Youre looking at it as an investment. You have an economic value, based on the same way income approach say of valuing a non ag property of office buildings, a rental building, or something like that. Because the income stream would be reduced it would have a substantial reduction in that value, because of the returns there. This would impact the owners and what the losses they would incur there. M ansfield: And how is that message being received in Washington and I guess, in San Palo? Muraro: How is it being received? I think thats a question its a political question. Therefore I need to differ you to some of the organizations that work in it. Th ey are the indication is that Its political. In San Palo ah Let me from the Florida growers
8 situation, they look at it as something that they need to be competitive. In San Palo, many of the growers are looking at it as an opportunity, where they hope th ey wold be able to capture a higher return, per box, on their fruit if [the tariff] were removed. The question is how much would the price actually go down? Along with, how much would the grower in San Palo ah receive of that cost savings? If it is just a straight reduction in price of importing, then it may not change their returns. Because youre going from a dollar, lets say for example [they save] seventy five to eighty cents, by removing the tariff, the playing field at the grower level doesnt chang e. Its just a lower price, bringing it into the [US]. Now thats over simplified, but we have to see how the market works through that. Mansfield: Have you been in conversation from folks from Brazil? Muraro: Some. Mansfield: What are they saying? Mur aro: They are saying, you know, basically what they are saying is that they see it, again, as possibly an opportunity with the tariff removed, that the Brazilians can export more juice to the US which results in a lager return back to them. Mansfield: I g uess what Ive heard you say is, if they remove the tariff it will hurt the Florida growers and also the equipment suppliers and fertilizer suppliers, the schools and businesses in the communities that are supported by Floridas orange production. But what Ive heard you say is what the Brazilian people say is that it will just be a better economic opportunity for them. Do the y offer any further explanations about how it would benefit them? Muraro: Only that they would be able to export more juice here. T he specifics of that, I havent gotten from them yet.
9 Mansfield: Who have you talked with in Brazil? Muraro: Ive talked to growers and Ive talked to some people at the University of San Palo and Pircicava and ah some people who are associated with =, or do processed fruit. But thats it. Mansfield: I dont know how to put it, but is there any kind of adversarial conversation? Or is it a reasoned conversation? Muraro: For the most part it is reasoned. They asked the questions about the status of the d iscussions and what have you. But thats where it is. Mansfield: I ask that question because from my perspective in Florida, I can see how it would hurt us and it is hard for me to see how it would benefit them. Muraro: It can benefit them. If more juic e is flowing here, even if they were producing more. If they are able to produce more and sell it, even at the given price they are receiving now, theyd have a larger cash flow coming in. And if it happens that the price they receive goes up, theyd have a higher cash flow on the given amount of fruit they are already producing. Mansfield: Do you think, if they were to receive more money, larger profits in Brazil, do you fell like it would trickle out into the community there the same way that it does her e? Muraro: Yes. I think for the most part it would. Whats paid in the growing and production area and to the people working the processing and harvesting end is similar to here. You may want to go to some web sites you can locate. Here at the citrus rese arch center, the Lake Alfred web site and to other web sites, [? Ava Citrus?] [?Fundis Citrus?] We also have, and I forgot the name of the economic but in Pircicava you can go there an pull up some information. Theyve done similar economic impact and wh at it means to their state and country.
10 But, yes [the money] would benefit [the larger Brazilian citrus community.] Mansfield: You said the name of the University in Brazil was? Muraro: Its the University of San Palo, the campus at Pircicava. [spells] P I R C I C A V A. I give that to you later. Mansfield: Thats okay. Thats a better start o f spelling it than I would have had on my own. Muraro: Its the major agricultural university in the state of San Palo. Mansfield: As long as the long as the pr otective tariff stays in place, the Florida growers will remain competitive. But should it be removed, what could the Florida growers do to stay competitive? Muraro: Theyve been working. And there was the benefit of a price decrease in the early 90s. Be cause [processed orange juice] growers step backed and looked at what they were doing and found ways to become more ah cost effective. Ill say when they had the high prices they kept the groves [immaculate]. Weed control and everything was, you know, it was like a showpiece, in most cases. Maybe thats not a go description but they were on top of everything, making sure the grass was mowed and everything. Well they turned around and reevaluated, they looked at it and said, We dont need to have it that w ay. When they were making the higher returns that they made in the 80s the extra cost [for grooming] or a spray, just cause they felt like the insurance, for a rust mite problem, wasnt that [important]. They were still making a good return. But when t he prices went down they started reevaluating all of this. So they went in and started using Roundup as a chemical mower. If they mowed, they would mechanically move less than they did before. That reduced the costs. Using a wipe of the Roundup material, which stunted the grass and kept the middles in a less vigorous state, they would use other weed
11 control chemicals. They approached their pest management program on an as needed basis. They looked at greasy spot and the one disease pest that we have t o control in Florida in all citrus. They built their spray program around that. If they didnt have Im talking about processing now if they didnt have to have a build up of rust mite, or they didnt have a problem with leaf miner, they could get by with one, most of the people have gone to two sprays. [For] processing [oranges], early summer, and late summer to control greasy spot. It does have some other benefits of insect control as well. So thats the way they way they approached it, which helped to r educe cost. They didnt change the fertilization much, but [they did change it] some. They looked at the hedging and topping and what they did they became much more cost effective. What can they do to day? Theyre still trying to find how they might fine t une it. Theyre working on the use of the application of precision agriculture, particularly with spraying, with electronic sensoring. [Some is being developed for fertilization.] Herbicide is being used quite a bit. Particularly where you have a lot of re placement trees, nozzles will be automatically be turned off and on. And as I said before, they went to use a lot more Roundup or [? glisophate?] product and less residual well you still need residual, but looking more and more on a block by block, or grov e by grove need for cultural programs. Mansfield: I just want to make sure I understand. Prior to this reassessment the groves were well manicured, just so theyd look neat. After wards they realized that productivity and neatness didnt [coincide]. T he groves didnt have to be that well manicured? Is that the right word to use? Muraro: I dont know. I used the word manicured. I guess what Im saying is they did a few extra things, which they didnt need to do. It wasnt harming anything. But for proc essed juice fruit, they didnt need to do [as much]. When you go to fresh fruit they still need to be concerned about the same things they were before. Ah the insect and pest pressures. Youre producing a fruit for quality visibility, not just internal qua lity. And costs there basically for fresh fruit didnt go down. Theyve tweaked some and done
12 some, but for the most part, those programs didnt change much. May be they changed more in the weed control than they did in any other. In respect to processing though, they were growing with looking at how they might be able to get a higher return on the fresh fruit, so they may spray an additional spray out there. But they became more conscious of monitoring in the processed juice blocks. You know, you mow yo ur yard every week during the summer, because it looks good and the weeds are getting up close to your ankles. So [you mow] so you dont look like the oddball down the street. [Well the growers] would make sure everything was mown like that. They started l ooking at how they could manage similarly and really if it got a little stubble growing, they could manage it by using Roundup to have a stunting effect. Mechanical mowing is much more expensive than putting a little bit of [?glysophate?] out. These are th ings that they tweaked. They looked at their spray program and through close monitoring found that they didnt need to spray as often as they did. In some cases they may have sprayed more, but that might have been on a seasonal basis, Then they could come back. And over all they reduced the cost of their spraying. They brought this [cost] down, Im not sure how much more they can reduce, become more cost effective. Mansfield: What about harvesting? Ive heard people talk about mechanical harvesting and if that were to happen it would really cut costs and make it much more efficient. So tell me about research and development of mechanical harvesters for citrus. Muraro: Okay. I would want to refer you to Dr. Fritz Roka in Immokalee. Hes taken the lead and done most of the work in this area, looking at the cost benefits of it. But the mechanical harvesting program was set up and operated by the Department of Citrus. They had someone who over saw the program. He evaluated equipment and and private [investors] came in and developed equipment. [See Fritz Roka s interview with Bill Mansfield, 6 22 05 ]
13 There are two types of shakers that are being used out there. One is a canopy shaker, which rotates a drum, with fingers as it goes down the side of a tree. The other is a trunk shaker. There are two companies that are very efficient in the use of those. They are primarily being used in the south. The plantings in the southern area, since the mid 80s theyve had to ah retrain or prune their trees, so they are adaptable to the catch frames that go underneath. They are m ost cost effective for harvesting. But for the amount they can reduce, you need to talk to Dr. Roka. They have not the opportunity there is expand their use. They will become more cost effective because these machines are very expensive. They need to opera te to bring down their capital overhead costs. But they have proven themselves, that they can harvest the fruit. The growers that are using them, most of the growers are contracting them. Theyre reducing their costs and the costs they are reducing is the fruit removal and delivery to the transport truck. From the transport truck they can go on to the processor. That cost has not changed because it is the same process. We were talking [of saving] a dollar fifty, a dollar sixty per box. What we call road siding, taking the fruit from the grove and putting it on a transport truck on the roadside with conventional harvesting. And I think its a dollar thirty at this time, Dr. Roka can give you more specifics. But the potential is to increase [mechanical har vesting] and decrease that cost further as more acreage is [mechanically harvested] and more efficient use of that capital investment is spread out. Mansfield: Who has looked at the effect [of mechanical harvesting] on the people who harvest the fruit? Me chanical harvesters will save the growers money, but then there is the economic impact on the people who have been picking it. Muraro: You need to talk to Dr. Roka about that. Hes involved in all that. Mansfield: Ive had some people tell me that the me chanical harvesters work, but they leave so much fruit on the trees that they still have to go back and do a hand picking afterwards.
14 Muraro: If I recall what Fritz Roka has said, they can remove at least 90% of the fruit on the tree and get it into the t ransport trailer. The growers still want all of the fruit removed from the tree. So they do have a gleaning crew. That adds a cost to the harvesting, but that is built into the cost savings. Perhaps the growers will look sometime and see what is the cost benefit removing the additional fruit and leaving it on the tree and just selling what theyve mechanically harvested. The other thing is there is people are working on developing an abscission chemical, which will help the fruit lessening the pull force n eeded to remove the fruit from the tree. Mansfield: So the fruit will drop from the tree more easily? Muraro: Yes. The advantages there are ah that you could go a little faster down the row. Youd have a little less force of shaking and less shake time, going from tree to tree. The Fruit would come off easier and maybe remove all of the fruit. The problem they are having with the abscission chemical is that it works well for early oranges, but when you come to the late variety of oranges The reason it w orks for the early oranges, it works for the late oranges too. But the early oranges, when theyre harvested, do not have the next years crop on the tree. The late oranges the Valencias we have the new crop coming on when most of the Valencias are being harvested. So developing an abscission chemical that will leave the green fruit, the small green fruit, and just let the mature ripe, yellow or orange fruit come off the tree is what they are working on. Mansfield: That would be bad to have this years f ruit fall off with next years fruit. What do you see as the future of Floridas citrus industry? Muraro: Were going to be here. Its possible that we may be a little bit smaller industry. There are some things impacting that ah the the development. The rapid development thats going on around the state now is impacting citrus, particularly on the
15 coastal areas and coming inward, across the I 4 corridor. But there will still be an industry here. When the freezes came in the 80s and they removed all of the about two hundred thousand acres were lost north of I 4. They said, Well that can just be developed. It may be developed, but two hundred thousand acres or even half of that is a lot of land to put houses on, with the support and what have you. It to ok probably fifteen years before major development started moving westward from Orlando into those regions and going on the west side of [highway] 27 and down 27. It took a long time for that to be developed. And likewise, what Im trying to say is youll see and there are some properties, particularly on the east cost, Indian River, St. Lucie counties, that been sold for development. Most of those were grapefruit groves. And some other properties have been purchased around, but its a long slow process. Th ere will be some point where we may get smaller, but well still be a viable industry. I dont even want to speculate what [size it will be]. At the last census we had 744,000 acres of citrus in Florida, including all varieties. Mansfield: Ive had a lot of people tell me, basically the same answer. Well still be here. Bu t there will be a contraction in citrus production. And that the small grower is an endangered species. How would you respond to that? Muraro: I think the smaller grower is will like ly be ah be more likely to leave the production of citrus, either in selling for development, or when he becomes non cost effective to get out of the business entirely. It may be some of our largest producers now may not be as large as they are, because of where they have spread their investments around, it may be (and Im looking at the best returns for the use of that capital) to sell it for development, when that approaches. So they may actually become smaller. Its a little difficult I think the smalle r will probably be impacted most. But the larger ones could very likely be impacted as well. Mansfield: What do you think will should the small growers be removed from the scene, what will be lost with that? Well still have oranges but
16 Muraro: Well if t he smaller growers move out [End Tape 1, Side A. Begin Tape 1, Side B.] Muraro: I guess it would be similar to a lot of let me step back. If the smaller growers are lost, I guess the idea of ownership of a citrus grove [Many] of the smaller growers con tract out most of their grove care operations now. They may even have the care taking or management company over seeing their grove operation, help market the fruit. Or it maybe in a co op. We have some, [where the fruit is managed and marketed through the co op]. But ah ah his idea of ownership and having a smaller citrus grove in the rural area. The other thing that concerns me is that ah citrus other than an income investment adds greenery and open space to the state of Florida. Im concerned that the q uality of life that we had five, ten, fifteen years ago in Florida, is less today. Because you have more people. We have more vehicles. We have more pavement. Some of the best recharge areas for the Florida aquifer are along the Lake County, Orange County area. This area [along highway] 27 is being covered up with houses, [which interferes with] the recharge area of our aquifer and water. Once you cover something up with concert the people may go away, but the concert remains. If you leave open area among the concert and pavement for greenery, it can help grow and maintain a more refreshing life style and environment. Mansfield: I interviewed Mr. Frank Bouis, I dont know if you know him or not. Muraro: Yes. Mansfield: He talked about how orange groves j ust smell better that shopping centers and housing developments. James Griffiths talked about how the aquifer was threatened, if development continued unchecked it could really hurt Floridas water. Muraro: There is a small book, if you want to look up an author, Henry Swanson, out of Orlando, Orange County, was the extension director of Orange County. He was an
17 advocate of retaining west Orange county and also east Lake County, as open [areas] for recharge purposes. I think its called the Blue Law or som ething like that, in the state statutes. The idea was if you retain your property in high recharge areas, you could get it credit so you would pay less taxes on it. But you would keep it as some open area, whether it was citrus, pasture, some agriculture, or just open forest, as a recharge area. It might be interesting to follow up on that. Ive forgotten what the name of his book was, but Henry Swanson [is the author]. Mansfield: Im sure I can find it. Muraro: This thing about the blue law, I dont know if the blue it referred to is water or whatever, but Mansfield: Weve largely talked about orange production for the orange juice market. But the fresh fruit market, while small is an important part of Floridas citrus crop too. So how has free trade le gislation affected the fresh fruit market? Muraro: Im not sure how much into South America that it will impact the fresh fruit. First of all 5% or less of our oranges are marketed fresh, season, to season, large crop small crop. The au and therefore it p robably wouldnt have a major impact on the fresh fruit. There are some who say we might move more towards trying to sell more fresh fruit. That may be possible, if lost the orange tariff. One of the reasons, particularly with the South American countries they have some disease problems which we dont have here. And there are vital sanitary restrictions that would have to be overcome, before they could import fresh citrus into the US. And Ah theyd do the same to us, things with plant material as well. S o Im not sure the FTAA would impact very much. When it comes to our major fresh fruit market is grapefruit and grapefruit for the export again Im not sure how that would impact I think what I would do here on this is Im going to differ this question to Dr. Tom Spreen, in Gainesville. Ill give you the phone number and all if you dont already have it. And Dr. Mark Brown.
18 Mansfield: Im familiar with Dr. Spreen but Dr. Brown is new to me. Muraro: He is with the Florida Department of Citrus, their economi c research staff. Its in Gainesville as well in the same building as Dr. Spreen. And may be going back to Florida Citrus Mutual and talking to Dr. Robert Barber, their economist. Mansfield: Okay. Muraro: Ask them this question on fresh fruits and pa rticularly specifics of the FTAA and the marketing and impact there. They have done the work, as I mentioned earlier, I work primarily on the growing end, getting the fruit ready to sell. Them they compliment what I do, looking at the trade and marketing p olicy. We work together, so they would be people youd probably want to talk to more specifically. Mansfield: Okay. I will consult them about that. Burt you talked about all the different pieces involved in getting the fruit produced and to the uh uh mark et. So tell me more about that. The different elements of price involved. You mentioned something about labor, fertilizer, and pesticides. So would that be a fair question to ask? And one you could answer easily? Muraro: Okay. What is the cost of getting Mansfield: Just the different elements that the citrus grower needs to consider. Muraro: What a citrus grower needs to consider is: the nutrition and fertilization requirements, the pest problems. If its fresh fruit they probably have more pressures f rom pests and must be more timely and use more sprays. As a citrus grower we have to always think as any other businessman, they are looking at the bottom line. As I tried to explain, they may have done an extra spray in a processed grove, when they had v ery high prices, or mowed the middles of their a little
19 more often to make sure it looked nice. That was minimum. The thing is, they look at using the least amount of product and the least amount of times they have to spray. (And Im focusing on the fresh fruit growers now) to maintain a visibly attractive marketable fruit, that the consumer would want to purchase. Then of course there is weed control, both mechanically and using chemical herbicides. Then there is irrigation, water requirements, particularl y during the spring months, when it is our driest season. Thats when the new fruit is being set on the crop for next year. And the pruning, keeping the tree shaped. We call it hedging or topping a tree. And tree replacement. As trees, die, either through disease, or some other reason it is removed. You are replacing trees in a citrus grove, so you have a continuation. It costs as much to drive a tractor past an empty space as it does a space with a tree in it. Growers recognize this, so they prefer to put a tree back in, every time they pull one out. They cant always do this, because of the availability of trees, or the budget to purchase all of the trees they need at one time, but thats what they prefer. Because, as I said, it costs as much to drive a t ractor past an empty space as it does a space with a tree in it. Another area which growers are that takes time and this is complying to mandatory regulations. Whether its the IRS [Internal Revenue Service], whether its workman compensation, whether it s minimum wage, particularly at harvesting. Because you have to guarantee that for the time a persons out there, they are paid the minim wage, whether they harvest enough fruit to cover that. They have to be assured that they get the minimum wage, On the production or growing end of its not difficult. You have someone there when they are working on an hourly basis. Or if they work all the time, or not, depending -working on an hourly basis or if they work all the time or not, depending if they are just a regular employee or not, like most people are, with any company or institution. But ah then there is complying with water management requirements, for well permitting, for use of water. Environmental protections with the record keeping they have to do. Tr aining of employees, to keep them up to date. The posting of information of when pesticides were used and [it is safe to reenter the grove]. Attending meeting to discuss things. There is a whole list of them and we have worked on a complacence cost survey just on the production end of it. It had sixty one items in it. Some of the items are thinks
20 they have to do I order to comply. The capital cost of putting a spray wash for canker control. But these are items that weve been trying to collect some inform ation on. But you can go to a non ag business and youll also see that they have similar regulations that they have to comply with. If youre building a house you have to have this inspection or this improved. If youre building a development you have to h ave environmental impact thing and on and on and on. You have to do all of these things. Build retention areas because of water run off. Everyone is impacted by this and it adds time ad cost with in an operation. Mansfield: So growing oranges is a whole l ot more complicated than people think? Muraro: Yes. I look at it that you have to Ive thought about an educational program and talking to a group of students and asking them how many would be interested in g knowing how to be an account keeping records a nd all and keeping up with costs. Or policy and law and each time put a different hat on. And then having a chemistry back ground, having to understand soils, and fertilizers, [and pesticides,] or the relationships between different chemicals, so you dont create a toxic compound or pollute the environment. Most often, when you go to a citrus grove youll find more wild life, birds and other critters around there because of the healthy environment [of a citrus grove]. But you take these five or six differ ent hats [that the citrus grower wears] and you end up with a hat that says farmer on it. Because the agricultural person has to understand all of this information, weather, computers how to access things. The technology here, from managing your irrigati on requirements. Weather stations out there, knowing what the information is, knowing if and when to spray, to prevent run off. The benefits of using lower volume for your spray, so you use less material to spray on a tree and having less run off and prot ect the environment. Mansfield: And thats just getting it ready for the production. That doesnt say anything about the economics.
21 Muraro: Right, then you have your harvesting. With harvesting you have another group of regulations there. One of the maj or things is maintaining record system to assure all workers are properly paid. And this is subject to auditing. Now most harvesters make way about the minimum wage. But there is liability insurance and there are fewer companies that are willing to provid e liability insurance in agriculture. This cost has gone up. The hauling cost has gone up. Going on to the packinghouse, again another set of information. And training of people so they will understand. Understanding the marketing, if it is fresh fruit if it is out there. Is it what people are want and where to market it. Again coming through there and making sure everything is clean and sanitary. But the juice products as well. The cost of maintaining and storing it, making sure its in a safe condition at all times, for when they do ship it out to the market. Mansfield: with all of that to keep in mind, the industrialization of agri culture doesnt seem surprising a s it might. But I ve been throwing questions at you for the past hour, is there anything you want t o tel l me abo ut that I haven t asked about? Muraro: I don t believe so. I think I ve tried to cover it in this last part here Mansfield: Okay. Well let me just thank you for taking the time to talk with me. A nd I hope my questions haven t been too embarrassing But as I explained the information you share d with me will be deposite d in the University library bit I need you re permission for people to use this. So ther e is a release form I have to ask you to sign And I ve been photographing everybody I ve interviewed so do you mind if I take your picture? Muraro: [laughs] I guess not. Mansfield: Okay, tha n k s so much.
22 Muraro: L et me mention one thing t hat should be in h ere, Much of the information that we have you can find it going to the Ci trus Research and Education web site, looking unde r publications or Ext e n sion that sub heading And you can find a list of publications, wh et h er its cost informati on, comparative costs, growing or gr o w ing and processing information. Also the University of Florida I FAS the Inst i tute of Food and Agricultural Science s has an information system called E DIS. From there, by subject matter or author you can locate inform ation from historica l lan d value, market value to production and cultural, from juice producti on articles that would be availab l e to them Mansfield: Okay. I will check that. And also, I m going to ask for some names of other people I can talk to. But let me stop [this recorder]. [End of interview]