Federal research funds to fight citrus greening disease essential

February 2, 2014 

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GRANT JEFFERIES/gjefferies@bradenton.com In this 2007 photograph Omar Bahena Martinez picks oranges at SMR Farms.

GRANT JEFFERIES — Grant Jefferies

There has been a lot of coverage about all of the bad news related to citrus greening disease in Florida. Rightly so -- it has spread to all 32 citrus-growing counties and has resulted in Florida's smallest crop in 24 years.

While the threat is serious and unlike anything ever seen by the industry, we are fighting it tooth and nail. Much of our ability to stay alive to fight another day has come from research.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a farm bill that included the provisions of the Citrus Disease Research Act. This measure was introduced by Congressman Vern Buchanan in early 2013, and benefitted from cosponsorship by 46 Democrats and Republicans from Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and Georgia, including all 27 members of the Florida delegation.

This is incredibly good news for those of us in the trenches, as well as for Florida's economy, which depends on the 76,000 jobs and $9 billion in annual economic activity the citrus industry generates.

The next step is for the Senate to take up and pass the farm bill and for the president to sign it into law so we can add serious weight to the research efforts already funded by the industry.

Many many thanks are due to Congressman Buchanan for his tireless efforts to move this initiative along to this excellent outcome for all Floridians.

Mac Carraway, President, SMR FarmsLakewood Ranch

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