The Asian citrus psyllid spreads huanglongbing (HLB), which renders citrus unmarketable. ( File photo )

U.S. senators from both parties from citrus-producing states are asking the Senate Agriculture Committee to include $125 million in the farm bill for citrus greening research.

The five senators, John Cornyn, R-Texas; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter on the request to the top members from both parties on the committee.

“The citrus industry has made substantial investments to find a cure for the disease, and the $25 million in funding through (the Specialty Crop Research Initiative) is a key component in these efforts,” according to the letter.

The initiative is funded at $80 million annually, with $25 million for citrus health research. In the letter, the senators point out only 10% of requests to the fund are fulfilled because lack of funds.

“Limited funding makes it difficult to get ahead of the issues facing the industry, such as strengthening crop characteristics, improving product efficiency, combating pests and disease that can decimate crops, and food safety.”

The disease, also known as huanglongbing (HLB), has devastated Florida’s citrus industry, and growers in California, Texas and Arizona have acted to prevent the disease from spreading to commercial citrus production areas.

 
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