Setback in greening battle - The Packer

Setback in greening battle

10/11/2013 11:32:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

Courtesy Agricultural Research ServiceGov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have helped fund citrus pest control, including Asian citrus psyllid (pictured).Up to now, everyone has said and done the right things, both symbolically and practically, when it comes to fighting citrus greening in California.

The industry said it’s an issue that could destroy it, and it wasn’t exaggerating. Consumers have gotten the message that the disease must be stopped, and even government at every level said it will join the fight, overseeing quarantines and providing some funding.

But the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, brought that to a halt in early October.

Gov. Brown vetoed a bill that would have appropriated $5 million from the state general fund to fight citrus disease, also known as huanglongbing, and the pests that spread them. 

The veto was largely symbolic, considering that the California citrus industry is valued at around $2 billion, and the Citrus Health Response Program is mostly funded by a 9 cents per carton assessment on growers that contributes about $15 million. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides $10 million.

The veto certainly will not stop the fight against the disease.

As Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual said, the governor’s veto sends the message that he doesn’t support the state’s agriculture.

Growers have long memories, and Nelsen even mentioned a similar stance Brown took regarding medflies when Brown was governor 30 years ago.

We can’t understand the benefit of the veto, and we don’t blame California citrus growers for feeling like their governor doesn’t support them.

They should demand he make it up to them.

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