USDA announces $30 million in projects to fight citrus greening

By Agri-Pulse staff

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 - USDA announced $30 million in funding for 22 projects aimed at fighting citrus greening disease, which is devastating groves in Florida and threatening the U.S. citrus industry.

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the money will finance projects aimed at short-term responses and long-term solutions to citrus greening, or Huanglongbing (HLB).

“Funding these projects through cooperative agreements puts us one step closer to putting real tools to fight this disease into the hands of citrus growers" Vilsack said in a news release.

The USDA's HLB Multiagency Coordination Group awarded more than $7 million in funding to 15 projects that address the disease's immediate impact with short-term tools, including thermotherapy treatments (a technique to keep infected trees productive), improved delivery of best management practices to citrus farmers, early detection methods, and insect host and vector control efforts.

An additional $23 million in grants are going to seven research and education projects sponsored by University of California, University of Florida, and Kansas State University in fiscal year 2014. The money is provided by programs funded in the 2014 farm bill.

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Examples of funded projects include developing HLB-resistant citrus cultivars, the development of field detection system for HLB, using heat as a treatment for prolonging productivity in infected citrus trees, creating a new antimicrobial treatment, among others.

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