Legislation helping in battle against citrus greening clears key Senate hurdle
The citrus disease already has cost Florida approximately $3.63 billion in lost revenues and 6,611 jobs since 2006.
July 18, 2012
WASHINGTON - A national effort to help battle some of the biggest threats to America’s citrus industry cleared a key hurdle in the Senate Wednesday morning.
The Senate Finance Committee passed the legislation, by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), that establishes a trust fund dedicated to finding cures for citrus diseases and other threats to the industry.
The money would be primarily used for research and development on citrus greening, a disease that is threatening the entire U.S. citrus market and the thousands of jobs it supports. The disease has hit crops in Florida, Louisiana, California, South Carolina, Texas and Georgia.
The trust fund established by the legislation would be financed by tariffs foreign producers already pay to import citrus into the United States. The money currently goes into the General Treasury, but under the legislation a portion of it would be put into the trust fund and dedicated specifically for research and development on diseases and pests that threaten the citrus industry.
“If we don’t stop this now, we’ll end up paying five bucks for an orange – and it’ll be one imported from someplace else,” said Sen. Nelson today.
According to a study earlier this year by the University of Florida, citrus greening has already cost Florida approximately $3.63 billion in lost revenues and 6,611 jobs since 2006. The first outbreak of greening in Florida was confirmed in 2005. Two years later, it had spread to every citrus-growing area in the state. It’s also endemic in large parts of Asia and Africa, and has invaded Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Belize, parts of Mexico.
Nelson will now seek to get the legislation through the full Senate.