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Legislature Approves Citrus Research Funding

Contact: Andrew Meadows at (863) 682-1111 or (cell) (863) 944-4924
For Immediate Release:

LAKELAND, Fla. (May 3, 2013) – The state Legislature today agreed to fund $9.5 million in research related activities to combat a terrifying disease known as HLB, or citrus greening, that threatens to wipe out Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry and its 76,000 jobs.

The funding is part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) 2013-2014 budget. The breakout: $8 million for HLB reserved research and incremental funding of $500,000 for each of the related FDACS programs; citrus Nursery certification, citrus germplasm facility and citrus pest management.

“Of course Commissioner Adam Putnam has done yeoman’s work to help our industry battle HLB. He knows we are in the fight of our life and this state investment is critical to get some short-term research answers,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest citrus grower trade organization. “We also commend state Legislators for showing this level of commitment to one of the state’s most important signature industries.”

“Representative Ben Albritton and Senator Alan Hays were instrumental in securing the funding and did an unbelievably strong job for the industry. In addition Representatives Steve Crisafulli and Seth McKeel as well as Senators Denise Grimsley and Joe Negron worked particularly hard on this issue.”

Governor Rick Scott still must approve the budget. HLB is a vascular disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. It is found in all of Florida’s 32 citrus producing counties and can kill a tree in two years.

The Florida citrus industry creates a $9 billion annual economic impact, employing nearly 76,000 people, and covering about 550,000 acres. Founded in 1948, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus grower organization. For more information, visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.