Another $22 million in federal funds is being invested in research to combat Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.
Over the last decade, Florida’s commercial groves have been crippled by greening, a bacterial disease. Spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, it attacks a tree’s vascular system and can kill it within two years.
In September 2005, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed the first U.S. detection of greening on samples of pummelo leaves and fruit from a Miami-Dade County grove.
U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, D-FL, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Citrus Caucus, applauded the announcement. The grants are in addition to the $23 million awarded through the same program in fiscal year 2015.
“The impact of greening has been sending shock waves through Florida’s citrus industry, which has seen production drop nearly 50 percent in the last two years alone. This highlights the urgent need to address the serious threat this disease continues to pose to our local farmers and economy,” Murphy said.
For more information on the Citrus Disease Research and Extension (CDRE) Program and this grant opportunity, please visit: https://nifa.usda.gov/funding-opportunity/citrus-disease-research-and-extension-cdre.
Florida’s 18th District, represented by Murphy, is home to around 45,000 acres of citrus groves. Shortly after coming to Congress, he formed the bipartisan Congressional Citrus Caucus along with Florida Congressmen Vern Buchanan and Tom Rooney and California Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod.
In November, co-chairs Murphy and Buchanan introduced legislation to aid Florida citrus growers in replacing diseased trees.