The Florida Department of Citrus, focusing on where it plans to go and what it should be concentrating on, came up with a new mission statement as it starts its new year.
At its first public meeting of the fiscal year on Sept. 12, newly hired Executive Director Douglas Ackerman presented the mission statement which commissioners approved. All members approved the change except Commissioner Michael J. Garavaglia, Jr., who was absent.
The new mission statement is “Maximize consumer demand for Florida citrus products to ensure the sustainability and economic well-being of the Florida citrus grower, the citrus industry and the State of Florida.”
It changes from the old statement, which has been in place since 2005: “Grow the market for the Florida citrus industry to enhance the economic well-being of the Florida citrus grower, citrus industry and the State of Florida.”
“We sat down to figure out where we are and where we want to go and how to get there,” Ackerman said.
He said the thing he keeps hearing is the growers want to “make sure this industry is here for our kids and our grandkids,” he said. “That’s sustainability.”
Commissioner Vernon “V.C.” Hollingsworth, III, said he was a bit nervous about using that term.
“I don’t want to change anything (in the statement), but I have a cause and concern as an agriculturist and that is the deal when I see the word sustainability,” he said. “Most of the time when I see sustainability it’s not whether the farmer makes a profit.”
He said farmers are not simply interested in sustaining but to grow and be as productive as possible.
“That word has two meanings and that word makes me nervous,” he said.
Ackerman said he understands that concern but he said he is realizes the goal is longevity of the industry.
Ackerman said there are seven guiding values behind the consumer statement: accountability, expertise, principled ethical standards, collaboration, focus, innovation and people.
The next steps for the industry to take are to develop a metrics advisory committee to develop and decide on the proper measures for success and begin reporting, Ackerman told commissioners.
While commissioners unanimously voted in favor of changing the mission statement, Hollingsworth told Ackerman, who has been executive director for just a few months, that they are currently riding on his word for the future of the DOC.
“I also want to take your word to the relevance of this and loyalty to Florida citrus,” he said. “We’ll take your word so we can move forward that this is a high priority and what we are going to realize.”
“That is our priority, but you’re going to have to see that,” Ackerman said.