Editor's Note: The California & Co. column, "Citrus Cartel Would Make OPEC Jealous" (Jan. 8), generated considerable reader response, particularly from smaller growers. Nearly all were critical of the current marketing system. A representative sampling follows.
Daniel Akst's article, finally, exposes one of the economic tragedies in California and Arizona--the navel orange marketing order monopoly.
As a small grower, packer, marketer, we have watched for years as our competitors are allowed by law to tell us what our sales quotas would be each week and how many cartons of navel oranges we are allowed to sell. Imagine IBM telling Apple how many computers they can sell in a particular week?
We had not sold any of our own navel oranges before the big freeze hit in December. Because we are small, we could not generate enough sales quotas to economically harvest our crop.
Under our navel orange marketing order, sales are limited and production is increased. The only companies that find this system attractive are the large packers and marketers who can pack and sell navel oranges daily every week of the harvest season, while smaller packers and marketers are forced to limit their harvest. I have witnessed the artificial expansion of the harvest season from 4 1/2 to 7 1/2 months, thereby, making a profit for marketers but not the efficient growers.