January 28, 2014

Sustained Funding For HLB Research In Farm Bill

California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen issued the following statement upon release of the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Report TODAY:  

"Leaders of both Houses of Congress deserve applause for putting forth an outstanding Farm Bill that prioritizes funding, reduces overall spending, and sustains valuable programs for the Specialty Crop industry, and specifically, the U.S. citrus industry."

CCM has worked tirelessly with Valley Congressmen Kevin McCarthy, David Valadao, Devin Nunes, Jim Costa, and Jeff Denham along with Senator Feinstein (CA) and Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (MI) to achieve one of the organization's key goals - securing a sustained funding for Huanglongbing (HLB) research and programs.  

Florida and California have spent a combined $12 million annually in the past five years for research alone.  "Simply put, this level of funding from the industry is not sustainable given the increased operating costs of protecting the industries in California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona from the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) and HLB.”

"There are many 'thank you’s' to be issued, but the effort put forth by Congressman McCarthy, Senator Stabenow and Congressman Frank Lucas (OK), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture is deserving of special recognition.  They heard our requests and were mindful that the future of the U.S. citrus industry depends upon finding a solution to this devastating disease."

Staff members for McCarthy, Stabenow and Lucas have been in constant contact with Nelsen to draft language that would create a streamlined process for funding HLB research and programs such as biological control efforts for ACP. 

"In particular, the engagement of Congressman McCarthy was invaluable in getting this priority moving forward."

Other Farm Bill components of note include continued funding for air quality programs, continued funding for commodities to overcome trade barriers, pest and disease protection programs, and school lunch programs that put fruit and vegetables at the top of the nutritional priority list.

"This balanced approach is a noteworthy accomplishment that cuts spending while providing valuable assistance to many stakeholders and ensuring that a viable economic environment for the production of food and fiber continues to exist."