Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the Citrus Research and Development Foundation will receive $9 million for research on stopping and preventing the transmission of HLB.
“This disease has already done significant damage to one of the Sunshine State’s most important industries,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who supported the grant. “We’ve got to figure out a way to stop it, and today [with this grant] we’re one step closer to reaching that goal.”
According to a study earlier this year by the University of Florida, HLB has cost Florida over $3.6 billion in lost revenues and over 6,600 jobs since 2006. The first outbreak of the disease was confirmed in 2005, and two years later it had spread to every citrus-growing area in the state.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to advance research into citrus greening,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “I must commend Secretary Vilsack for his leadership on this issue and understanding that the key to beating this insidious disease lies in the laboratory.”
In addition to supporting grants for research on HLB over the years, Nelson also has drafted legislation to create a citrus trust fund dedicated to finding cures for citrus diseases and other threats to the industry. Nelson’s legislation passed the Senate Finance Committee in July.
The citrus research dollars were part of a larger speciatly crop research funding package. Click here for more details.