The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will host a summit on citrus greening and the Asian citrus psyllid to enhance prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

This meeting will take place on Dec. 17 and 18 in Bethesda, Md. It will provide a forum for federal, state and industry representatives to collaboratively discuss these efforts and integrate activities across all sectors to improve America's defense against this disease.

"This summit is an unprecedented opportunity for citrus health experts to come together as they work to find a solution in controlling the spread of citrus greening," said Bruce Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "Citrus greening is a serious bacterial disease of citrus fruit that greatly reduces production, can kill trees and destroys the economic value of citrus fruit. It's important that we work together to stop its spread."

Summit participants will include specific subject matter experts from citrus-producing states who represent the industry, regulatory and research arenas. Other USDA agencies also will attend, including the Agricultural Marketing Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, Agricultural Research Service and Risk Management Agency. Gale Buchanan, undersecretary for USDA's Research, Education and Economics mission area also will be a keynote speaker at this event.

"It is a great pleasure to be invited to speak at this very important meeting," said Buchanan. "USDA's Research, Education and Economics mission area is instrumental in providing the science that policymakers, researchers, federal agencies and others can draw upon to meet the challenges facing America's citrus industry."

Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing, is one of the more serious diseases of citrus fruit. The Asian citrus psyllid is the primary insect vector that spreads citrus greening from infected trees to healthy trees as the insect feeds on a plant. Currently, there are 28 counties in Florida quarantined for citrus greening. And 32 counties in Texas and Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam are quarantined for the Asian citrus psyllid.

Additional information about the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service programs can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov .