The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

$31.5 million in federal funds allocated for fight against citrus greening

  • Print

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Federal agriculture officials said Thursday that they are allocating millions of dollars toward research to solve problems caused by the devastating citrus greening bacteria that threatens Florida's $9 billion citrus industry.

United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Associated Press in a statement that $25 million in funding comes from the 2014 Farm Bill. Another $6.5 million will be sent to projects through a group formed to combat greening.

Florida's citrus growers have been the hardest-hit in the U.S. — experts say virtually all of the state's groves are infected — and researchers are working furiously to come up with a vaccine or cure. Growers warn that if a solution isn't found, Florida's iconic crop could be lost.

"USDA is committed to the fight against citrus greening, including making major research investments to counter this destructive disease," Vilsack said in the statement. "The citrus industry and the thousands of jobs it supports are depending on groundbreaking research to neutralize this threat."

Vilsack said the 2014 Farm Bill provides $25 million per year for a total of $125 million of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative funding toward citrus health research over the next five years.

Priority will be given to projects that span several states.

While key citrus-growing regions like California and Texas haven't been as affected by greening, growers, researchers and experts are also working on a cure in an attempt to stave off the devastating disease.

In Florida, the orange crop — which is mostly used for juice — is approaching its lowest harvest in decades. Experts blame greening.

The Florida Citrus Commission met this week and said the 2013-14 Florida citrus season will probably end with the lowest orange crop in 29 years at 104.3 million boxes. Fruit size during this season was also near a record low — which is also attributed to trees weakened by greening.

Greening first enters the tree via the jumping plant lice known as Asian citrus psyllid. The lice suck on leaf sap and leave behind bacteria. The bacteria starve the tree of nutrients, leading to sour fruit. The tree eventually dies.

"Citrus production in Florida may be at a 30-year low, but we're not ready to throw in the towel. We'll use every tool in our toolbox to fight citrus greening and save Florida's signature crop. A $9 billion industry that supports 75,000 jobs is at stake, and we can't afford to lose," said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

Recently, University of Florida researchers said they've found a possible treatment for greening, but caution that it could be years before it could become commercially available to growers.

The team from UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences said that it has discovered a chemical that kills the citrus greening bacteria.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Shots ring out as police say armed threat "resolved"

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • May 22, 2012 - 120522  - Westminster United Church photographed Tuesday May 22, 2012 .  John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google