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Bill has potential $25 million step forward for citrus

Bill has potential $25 million step forward for citrus

Congress has reached an “agreement in principle” that provides $25 million over five years for ACP, HLB research

@TheSunGazette

EXETER – Citrus has been under siege in the United States. Research to combat the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly greening disease it spreads, Huanglongbing (HLB), has been ongoing and expensive. But potential relief is on the way.

Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual (CCM) noted on Friday leading farm bill negotiators in the House and Senate had reached an “agreement in principle.” The CCM press release said the agreement signals a final deal will be made before the end of the year.

Included in the initial agreement is language providing $25 million per year for 5 years for research specific to the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid and plant deadly plant disease Huanglongbing (HLB).

The Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund will build upon the program created in the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) title in the 2014 Farm Bill which dedicated research funding for citrus.

“The trust fund language is a significant win for U.S. citrus growers,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen. “It’s critical for the future of our industry and the domestic citrus market that we continue to invest in research aimed to find a solution for HLB.”

The Farm Bill funding specific to HLB research compliments the $40 million per year program funded by California citrus growers to stop the spread of HLB which has been detected in over 900 backyard citrus trees in Southern California. In recent years, the state of California has dedicated funds to augment ACP and HLB control efforts in urban areas including the rearing and release of millions of beneficial insects in backyard citrus trees.

Negotiators have also agreed to maintain funding for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Additionally, funding will continue for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program which helps growers overcome artificial trade barriers.

“On behalf of the California citrus industry, I want to thank the lead farm bill negotiators in both houses for their commitment to passing a Farm Bill that includes this vital funding for the U.S. citrus industry and specialty crops,” Nelsen said.

Just recently approximately 400 non-HLB spreading ACP, at various life stages, were discovered in residential citrus near Visalia. Precautionary treatments in surrounding area, commenced after a public meeting and notices were distributed to homeowners. There was no commercial citrus within a mile of the location and a survey was conducted with no additional finds. Enforcement staffs are reviewing traps in the area on a daily basis until further notice.

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