U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross (FL-15), Tom Rooney (FL-17), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), and Steve Southerland (FL-02) touted the funding for the Citrus Research and Extension Initiative in the Farm Bill Conference Report. The Conference Report states that Citrus Research and Extension Initiative will receive $25 million annually to help fight the deadly citrus greening disease that decimates citrus groves across the country. This money will be used for researchers to develop a cure for citrus greening so that economies in Florida and the whole United States will thrive.
"This is absolutely terrific news. We are in a crisis right now and we know the key to beating citrus greening disease is going to be uncovered by science funded in part though this money," said Michael W. Sparks, Executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. "This funding is an investment in the future of one of Florida's signature industries and gets us that much closer to a solution. I can't thank the members of Florida's Congressional delegation - particularly Reps. Ross, Rooney, Southerland and Buchanan - enough for their hard work on this issue."
"Citrus Greening not only threatens our groves, it hurts our local and national economies," said Ross. "Since 2005, citrus greening has cost Florida 8,200 jobs and $4.5 billion in economic loss. I'm pleased that this bipartisan issue is getting the attention it so desperately needs. We must work to save this food source and to save jobs."
"Getting this funding to fight citrus disease is a huge victory not just for the growers in my district, but for our entire state and everyone in this country who drinks orange juice," said Rooney. "We've been working for the last three years to get this program included in the Farm Bill, and I couldn't be happier that we were able to secure it in the final agreement reached today. This new initiative will help save Florida's citrus industry, protect Florida jobs, and ensure that all Americans continue to enjoy a safe, affordable and abundant food supply."
"Citrus greening threatens not only the existence of Florida citrus farmers and producers, but the entire U.S. citrus industry," said Buchanan. "Finding a cure for this destructive disease is vital to maintaining a strong economy and protecting jobs right here in Southwest Florida. This measure represents a crucial step forward by securing a sustainable funding source necessary to combat this pervasive disease."
"As the only member of Congress from Florida to serve on the Farm Bill Conference Committee, I was committed to doing all I could to help ensure the long-term viability of citrus production in our state," said Southerland. "By working in a bipartisan fashion, we were able to secure $125 million to protect one of Florida's signature crops from citrus greening. I am proud to have signed the conference report and look forward to continuing my work to strengthen local economies and grow agriculture jobs across the Sunshine State."