The federal Agriculture Appropriations bill for FY2014 approved by the full committee Jan. 13 includes additional funding for citrus disease research.

“A strong citrus industry in Florida is critical to growing our economy and creating jobs in our state, but it is also vital to maintaining a safe, affordable and abundant food supply for our nation, said U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17), a member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee who requested the funding. “Unfortunately, diseases like citrus greening are driving many of our growers out of business and crippling our industry.”

Rooney noted that since 1997, total citrus acreage in Florida has fallen by 25 percent, from 600,000 acres to 450,000 acres. Unless that trend is reversed, experts believe the state’s annual crop will become too small to sustain existing processing plants, costing the state much-needed jobs and its status as a top citrus producer.

The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for 2014 includes three requests made by Rooney:

Citrus greening disease research

The bill promotes research on citrus greening disease and encourages the Agricultural Research Service to continue working to develop methods to reduce transmission and enhance immunity in citrus trees and to work industry, universities, growers, and other partners to develop effective control mechanisms.

Citrus Health Response Program

CHRP is a nationwide effort to protect the U.S. industry from the ravages of invasive pests and diseases. Funds provided for this program allow the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to partner with States and local entities to develop cures for citrus disease. The bill also encourages APHIS to utilize the funds available in the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention account to the greatest extent possible in an attempt to sustain the economic viability of the citrus industry.

Huanglongbing

The bill encourages APHIS to work with states to eradicate the Asian Citrus Psyllid, the primary vector of the bacterium that causes Huanglongbing/citrus greening disease. It directs APHIS to continue working with ARS, citrus-producing States, industry stakeholders and universities on research to develop additional control mechanisms.

The bill provides $19.5 billion in total discretionary funding, which is $1.3 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. However, it includes increases of approximately $1.9 million for pest detection programs and approximately $1 million for plant protection programs.