The House Appropriations Committee has approved $69.5 million to be put toward researching and preventing the spread of Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, in the United States.
“Continuing to farm in the Central Valley will require two things: Plentiful water and the best research and technology available. We have secured funding to help citrus farmers stay ahead of the curve and produce food and jobs for the Central Valley,” said Rep. TJ Cox from California, where 267,000 acres of Citrus bore fruit in 2019, according to USDA survey data. “With this funding for citrus research we can make sure our citrus farmers and farmworkers are safeguarded from diseases that can ruin Valley crops.”
The committee allotted $61 million to go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Citrus Health Response Program, which was created in the 2014 Farm Bill to “discover and develop tools for early detection, control and eradication of diseases and pests that threaten domestic citrus production and processing.”
The other $8.5 million went to the HLB Multiagency Coordination Group, a joint effort between USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several State departments of agriculture and industry groups.
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The decision for additional funding was spurred by a letter signed by 29 members of Congress in March, who requested that the committee apportion these funds in the 2021 appropriations bill. According to the letter, both of these allotments were equal to the funding these programs received in the 2020 fiscal year.
The APHIS website states that Huanglongbing is “the most serious disease of citrus” and currently has no cure. The disease, which is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, was first detected in Florida in 2005 and has reduced the state’s citrus production by 75% and doubled the cost of producing the crop. It has since spread to parts of Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and California.
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