Visionary Mike Arnold in Citrus Hall of Fame

Lasting change requires vision, leadership and absolute commitment to the cause – all traits displayed by Mike Arnold over decades of selfless leadership in the Australian citrus industry.

The Citrus Australia Market Outlook forum dinner near Mildura was told Mr Arnold showed vision at an early age when he invested money in a private irrigation scheme on the family farm in the 50s, and later replaced wine grapes with blood oranges which proved to be wildly successful throughout Australia.

This vision has also been utilised to the lasting benefit of industry. Mr Arnold played a pivotal role as the chairman of Auscitrus since the amalgamation of the Australian Citrus Propagation Association (ACPA) and Australian Citrus Improvement Association in 2001, through to his retirement in 2021.

Prior to 2001 he was chair of the Australian Citrus Improvement Association for several years. He was also a founding member of the South Australian Citrus Improvement Society and chaired that through to his retirement in 2021.

Mr Arnold was always adamant that industry bodies such as Auscitrus should be governed by growers and nurserymen with “skin in the game”.

He did his best to ensure equal representation between growers and nurserymen in the governance of Auscitrus and was determined to ensure the people making decisions on behalf of the industry were relevant to the industry, with current practical experience.

In both of these roles Mr Arnold provided great leadership by establishing the foundation on what the Australian citrus industry is based to date. Mr Arnold encouraged the importation of dozens of public citrus varieties, many of which are now key varieties in Australia.

In particular Mr Arnold had a special interest in niche varieties and their marketing and grew these on his properties in the Waikerie region with much success, including the blood orange variety that bears his family name.

This came about through his various contacts and relationships around the world – he always put a high value on travel to other citrus producing countries to see what they were growing and how it was best grown.

Through the years he has coordinated and led seven group tours to investigate citrus around the world, opening opportunities for other businesses.

He has also hosted many international grower trips and facilitated many technical visits to Australia in a bid to share knowledge, strengthen relationships and advance our industry.

Mr Arnold was instrumental in leading the growth and development of the Auscitrus seed and budwood program. He oversaw the movement from a small operation largely run by NSW DPI employees, to the financially strong and business focused program that it now is.

This included moving away from decades of history with existing systems and administration – breaking away and developing a new facility on land owned freehold by the ACPA industry body.

A greenhouse complex was constructed to exclude any future incursion of the Asian citrus psyllid or other exotic pest/disease complexes.

Australia now has a world class facility that is globally recognised for its excellence under Mr Arnold’s leadership and vision.

Mr Arnold has also been a member of the Waikierie Co-Op Board for two decades, a former chairman and life member of the Ag Bureau of Waikerie and has granted 60 years of service to the South Australian Country Fire Service, at state and local level.

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