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Orange Juice and Taxes Cause State Citrus Department Director to Resign

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The Ledger is reporting that Ken Keck, the Florida Department of Citrus executive director, will resign next week.

That's consistent with the citrus commission's August 3 agenda, which states the third item is to consider "terms of resignation of acting executive director," and the next item is to consider "designating new acting executive director" of the department.

The Ledger says Keck is "the victim of, in no particular order, declining orange juice sales, citrus greening, higher taxes and state Sen. J.D. Alexander."

Keck's been in the spot for five years, but it's been a tough time for citrus recently, orange juice in particular.

Hurricanes, freezing, and disease drove orange juice prices up, prompting Keck and the commission to impose higher taxes on the commodity several times.

In fairness to Keck's citrus, there have been recent problems with Florida's other crops, like tomatoes that are reportedly covered in chemicals and taste like cardboard.

There have been a few technological improvements to protect the state's $9 billion citrus industry, like mapping the sequence of orange genomes, but most of the practical applications are still in the future.

The Ledger also says that some politicking was occurring against Keck by State Sen.  Alexander, reportedly for not listening to growers before raising the taxes.

The new citrus director will likely be revealed on Wednesday.


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