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Citrus legislation draws praise

The Packer – August 2, 2017

Winning endorsement from U.S. citrus leaders, the Citrus Investment in Treatment and Research for U.S. Sustainability Act seeks to deliver research funds to help the citrus industry fight huanglongbing disease, also known as HLB and citrus greening, and give growers incentives to replant healthy trees.

Introduced July 27 by Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., the legislation authorizes citrus greening disease research programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and improves growers’ access to a program that encourages replanting of healthy trees in abandoned groves, according to the release.

The legislation also reauthorizes the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program, which supplies $25 million in annual funding to fight citrus greening until a cure is found.

The bill also authorizes the Citrus Health Response Program and Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group.

“The citrus industry in Florida has been fighting citrus greening for years and without iammediate action Florida orange juice will be a thing of the past,” Mike Sparks, executive vice president and CEO, Florida Citrus Mutual, said in the release. “This legislation is critical to not only fund research but to help growers replace trees in order to keep producing oranges.”

Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, thanked Rooney and co-sponsor Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., for the legislation. “This legislation preserves what will go down as a case study in public/private partnerships until the war is won,” he said in the release.

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