Multi-agency emergency response to save citrus
December 12, 2013
• USDA puts up $1 Million to fight HLB
• “Research projects that can bring practical and short-term solutions to the growers”
Like the cavalry riding to the rescue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is throwing its might behind efforts to fend off citrus greening, a disease that is fatal to citrus trees.
It has wreaked havoc in Florida but so far has not impacted California’s multi-billion dollar citrus industry, most of which is in the Central Valley.
The USDA says it is leading efforts to create a new, unified emergency response framework to address Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening.
The new framework will allow USDA and its partners to better coordinate HLB resources, share information and develop operational strategies to maximize effectiveness, the department says.
"USDA listened to the citrus industry's request for more urgency and greater coordination on the response to HLB and is implementing an emergency response structure," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "To jump start this initiative and affirm our commitment to industry, USDA is also providing $1 million to be used in support of research projects that can bring practical and short-term solutions to the growers in their efforts to combat this disease.”
The new framework will bring together USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), along with state departments of agriculture and the citrus industry into a multi-agency coordination group for HLB. It will provide industry with a single contact for all the federal and state entities that work on citrus issues and better enable the collective to collaborate on policy decisions, establish priorities, allocate critical resources, and collect, analyze, and disseminate information.
The group will also help coordinate federal research with industry's efforts to complement and fill research gaps, reduce unnecessary duplication, speed progress and more quickly provide practical tools for citrus growers to use.
The entire states of Florida and Georgia are under quarantine for HLB, and portions of California, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas are also under quarantine for the disease. The U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are under HLB quarantines as well.