Legislation designed to aid the fight against citrus greening disease has cleared a key U.S. Senate hurdle.
In the national effort to fight the disease, the Senate Finance Committee passed legislation introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., establishing a trust fund dedicated to discovering cures for citrus diseases and other threats to the industry.
The bill provides funding to be primarily used to support national research and development of citrus greening cures.
The trust fund is designed to be funded by tariffs importers already pay shipping citrus into the U.S., according to a release from Nelson.
That money is sent into the U.S. General Treasury but the legislation designates a portion of it to be diverted into the greening trust fund and dedicated specifically for disease and pest research and development, according to the release.
“If we don’t stop this now, we’ll end up paying five bucks for an orange — and it’ll be one imported from someplace else,” Sen. Nelson said in the release.
Since 2006, the citrus disease cost Florida growers $3.63 billion in lost revenues along with more than 6,600 jobs and has threatened crops in California, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, according to the release.