California Citrus Research Board.

California citrus leader Ken Keck will take the helm as president of the California Citrus Research Board (CRB) effective June 1.

Keck will replace Ted Batkin who has served as CRB president since 1993. Batkin will retire in September.

Keck will take over as California citrus growers continue to invest in needed research to aid the state’s more than $2-billion citrus industry, and insect threats including the Asian citrus psyllid.

A third generation Florida citrus grower, Keck holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Stetson University, and a juris doctorate degree in law from Widener University School of Law.

Keck’s citrus experience runs deep, including experience fighting the Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing (HLB) in Florida.

“I know what it feels like to have your livelihood threatened, and I want to use this understanding - and my experiences in Florida - to benefit the California industry,” Keck said.

Keck has deep-rooted expertise representing citrus growers in a governmental, legal, and regulatory framework. He served as general counsel and executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus from 2006-2012.

Keck served as the organization’s director of government affairs and general counsel from 2002-2006. He was the director of legislative and regulatory affairs with Florida Citrus Mutual from 1999-2002.

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“We thank Ted for his tremendous leadership and efforts on behalf of California citrus growers,” said Earl Rutz, CRB chairman. “And while there are big shoes to fill, we believe Ken’s track record, enthusiasm, and alignment with the perspective of California growers will make him an excellent asset to the CRB.

“As an industry, we are facing some serious threats, most notably the continued spread of the Asian citrus psyllid and identification of HLB in our state,” Rutz said. “It’s a complex and challenging time, but we believe Ken has the skills to take us forward.”

The Citrus Research Board administers the Citrus Research Program, a grower-funded and directed program established in 1968 under the California Marketing Act as the mechanism enabling the state's citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research.

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