Top USDA officials to visit Florida citrus

Dan Citrus, Florida

This story comes to us from Florida Citrus Mutual’s “Triangle” membership newsletter this week:

The top USDA officials in charge of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) have agreed to visit Florida and see HLB firsthand as well as discuss the maligned grant program.

Ann Bartuska, Deputy Undersecretary of the USDA’s Research, Education and Economics and Thomas Bewick, National Program Leader, NIFA are scheduled to be in Florida on November 29.

The visit is a result of a request by Florida Citrus Mutual after USDA offi­cials rejected Florida SCRI research pro­posals for the third time earlier this year. IFAS submitted the multi-million dollar proposals which had received the blessing of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mutual‘s invite followed a meeting between Bartuska and members of Flori­da Congressional delegation, lead by U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam. The group discussed the frustration growers and elected offi­cials feel about being shut out of the SCRI program. The SCRI was created by the 2008 Farm Bill to finance research on ma­jor pest and disease threats such as HLB .

The USDA recently announced recip­ients of the third round of SCRI funding. Several of the grants are for more than $4 million. To view the grants go to