From Kevin Shea, Administrator, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:The Florida citrus industry is under siege and the invader is a tiny bug called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The ACP spreads a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening, and together they are destroying groves that have been cultivated by families for generations.
But all is not lost. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with State and Federal partners such as the Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as well as State departments of agriculture and the citrus industry in Florida, California, Arizona and Texas to develop short-term solutions to help protect groves while researchers focus on longer-term projects that may one day put an end to this devastating pest and disease combo.
Together, this group forms a Multi-Agency Coordination Group, or MAC, group. The MAC was initiated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack who heard the call for short-term solutions to HLB in 2013 and established a new, unified emergency response framework to better position the Department to respond in a more agile, concerted, and direct way to both the immediate and long-term needs of the citrus industry.
As part of the MAC initiative, APHIS has received more than $25 million over the past three years to fund more than 30 shovel-ready projects carried out by State cooperators, universities, and private companies to produce tangible results and practical tools in the fight against the ACP and citrus greening. To read more of this story click here.