James Morton (1884-1972)
Waverly Growers Cooperative
Florida Clearing House
Clearing House Committee of Fifty
Florida Farm Bureau
Florida Citrus Mutual
Born in Scotland in 1884, James Morton moved to Auburndale, Florida, in 1913, where he planted a citrus grove on the shores of Lake Jessie. Primarily concerned with working as a business contractor during his early American years, Morton grew citrus on the side.
His direction changed in 1934, when he began work with the Waverly Growers Cooperative, serving first as advertising manager, but then quickly moving up in the company. Morton became superintendent of plant operations, then company vice president. Eventually he served on the board of directors of the firm.
Morton was among the first to form and operate the Florida Clearing House, designed as voluntary way among growers to set industry standards. Serving as Chairmen of the Clearing House Committee of Fifty, Morton was lauded for his work with the group, and it was said that he did more in three years working for the organization than any other man. He also served as citrus chairmen of the Florida Farm Bureau.
Morton was a firm believer in the usefulness of agricultural cooperatives in order to ensure that growers got their fair share. He also insisted that growers have access to daily price information as well as representation at all levels of government. With this in mind, he joined such citrus figures as A.B. Michael, Latt Maxcy, and many others in forming Florida Citrus Mutual in 1948. At the time, the market was in chaos following the end of World War II. Morton saw the need for the new organization in order to restore growers’ faith in their own fruit, and he took on a prominent role in promoting the new super-cooperative by writing countless articles in numerous trade publications in order to explain to growers the need for the new organization. Morton served as the cooperative’s Organizational Director from 1948-1965, and later received the honor of being named Director Emeritus. Thanks to the efforts of men like Morton, Florida Citrus Mutual later became one of the largest organizations of its type in the world, encompassing 13,000 members at its peak.
James Morton was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1973, one year after his death in 1972.