California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura has appointed Nick Hill as chairman, Craig Armstrong vice chairman and Richard Bennett secretary/treasurer of the newly formed California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee.

Hill is a diversified citrus grower with lemons, oranges and mandarins; he is a former chair of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, according to a news release.

Armstrong is a diversified citrus producer growing mainly lemons and some tangerines, grapefruit and mandarins; he is a member of the Sunkist Board of Directors.

Bennett is primarily a mandarin producer and also grows oranges in Tulare County; he is a former Tulare County Farm Bureau director.

The new officers will lead the upcoming committee meeting on March 3 in Bakersfield.

The committee was authorized through Assembly Bill 281, which was signed into law on Oct. 9, 2009. The bill also authorizes a grower-paid assessment to help fund citrus pest and disease management programs.

That includes detection and control of the Asian citrus psyllid, which can carry citrus greening or huanglongbing. The disease has been detected in Florida and a number of other Southern states but not in California.