Ross Co-Sponsors Legislation to Protect Our Citrus Groves

Statement

By:  Dennis Ross
Date: Feb. 27, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) is an original co-sponsor of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan's (FL-16) bill that would provide research funding to combat citrus greening -- a deadly bacterial disease threatening to cripple Florida's citrus industry. Since 2005, citrus greening has cost Florida 8,200 jobs and $4.5 billion in economic damages. This bill comes at no cost to the taxpayer.

"Citrus greening endangers the health of the tree and therefore the life of the fruit," said Ross. "Its devastating impact has cost jobs and hurt our economy. Polk County, my home county, produces more citrus than any other county in Florida. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation that will allocate funds from current tariffs to be used specifically to help find a cure to this disease without using taxpayer dollars. We must work to save this food source and to save jobs."

"The world depends on Florida citrus," said Buchanan. "Citrus greening threatens not only the existence of Florida citrus farmers and producers, but the entire U.S. citrus industry. Finding a cure to this destructive disease is vital to sustaining a strong economy and protecting Florida jobs."

Background:
-This bill creates a federal trust fund devoted to finding a cure for the highly contagious disease that kills citrus trees. The fund will be financed by existing tariffs on imported citrus and be overseen by an advisory board of nine members. It will be funded up to $30 million annually over a period of five years. This legislation is the House companion to Sen. Bill Nelson's, D-FL, Citrus Research and Development Trust Fund Act.
-As the second largest citrus producer in the world, Florida generates $9 billion in economic activity and employs nearly 76,000 people.
-Citrus from Polk County creates roughly $100 million in revenue; citrus from Hillsborough County creates roughly $10 million in revenue.
-Citrus greening first appeared in Florida citrus groves in 2005; within two years, the disease had spread to all 32 citrus-growing counties across the state. It now affects crops in California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Hawaii.