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Public Statements

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. NELSON. Madam President, I am grateful to the chairman of the committee to engage in a colloquy with me about a devastating disease of bacteria called greening, which is devastating the citrus industry. We know of no cure. The bacteria kills the citrus tree in 5 years, and we are not going to have a citrus crop or industry unless we can find a cure for this bacteria.

The bacteria is transported by an insect called a psyllid, and once the psyllid bores its snout into the bark of the tree and the bacteria is injected into the foam or sap of the tree, it will kill the tree. They found various methods of spraying to try to prolong the life of the tree, but in essence the tree will die in about 5 years. It is in every grove in Florida. It is now in the citrus industry in California and Arizona and they have found the psyllid likewise in other gulf coast States--Alabama, Louisiana--and greening is also in the State of Georgia.

So what we are trying to do is set up a trust fund, which is authorized in the bill, and to get it funded in order to find a cure for this disease so an industry that has become so important to the entire country can be saved.

I have talked at length with the chairman of the Finance Committee Senator Baucus, who has been very supportive. As a matter of fact, we passed a similar bill out of the Finance Committee in the last Congress. I plan to work with Senator Baucus and Senator Stabenow to make sure this trust fund becomes a reality as we move forward with this farm bill.

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Mr. NELSON. I thank Senator Stabenow for her commitment to helping fund a cure for citrus greening, and it is just that; it is an emergency situation.

Because of the devastating nature of this citrus greening disease, the citrus research trust fund must have guaranteed funding in the farm bill. We simply can't wait any longer. Graciously, Senators Stabenow and Baucus have both been so encouraging and have agreed with me personally to restore the funding mechanisms of the trust fund when the Senate and the House go to conference on the farm bill. When this farm bill makes its way to the President's desk, the citrus trust fund needs to be a fully functional and a funded component.

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Mr. NELSON. I would just conclude by saying that I not only speak of this for my State of Florida, of which citrus is one of its primary industries and now the product of which is a staple on every American breakfast table, but I speak also of our sister States, Arizona, California--and, by the way, to the Presiding Officer I can say that the psyllid and the bacteria are in the State of Hawaii as well--Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama. I am very grateful for this commitment.

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