$2M for Citrus Pest and Disease Research In FL Budget

Gary Cooper Citrus, Florida

This release just in from Florida Citrus Mutual…
LAKELAND, Fla. (April 29, 2008) – The Florida citrus industry is scheduled to receive $2 million from the state’s ’08-’09 budget to help fund pest and disease research.
Sen. JD Alexander, Rep. Marty Bowen and Rep. Stan Mayfield were instrumental in obtaining the critical appropriation which will help fund research on citrus diseases such as HLB (greening) and canker.
Florida Citrus Mutual worked closely with the legislators on the measure. The state’s ’08-’09 budget, including the citrus research funding, will become official once it is approved by Governor Charlie Crist which is expected to happen within the next week.
“This appropriation is very important to the Florida citrus industry at a time when research may determine our future,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive vice president/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The entire Florida citrus industry would like to thank Sen. Alexander as well as Reps. Bowen and Mayfield for their tireless work on our behalf and recognizing the importance of this funding.”
Florida citrus is a $9 billion industry that supports 78,000 jobs.
“HLB has the potential to devastate the industry,” Sparks continued. “We as an industry must find a scientific solution. We have more than 100 research projects currently underway and the $2 million is crucial to making sure the projects continue unabated.”
“Florida Citrus Mutual will continue to work hard to uncover all funding sources for research at the state and federal level.”
Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening, has been confirmed in 28 Florida counties and is one of the most serious citrus diseases in the world. It is a bacterial disease that greatly reduces production and trees diagnosed with HLB generally decline and die within a few years. The disease presents no threat to humans or animals.
Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus growers’ organization. For more information, please visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.
Contact: Andrew Meadows at (863) 682-1111 or (cell) (863) 944-4924