U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, on Wednesday voted for the new 5-year farm bill, touting the money it includes for research on citrus greening, a disease threatening Florida's most valuable cash crop.
Here's a news release from Buchanan's office:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today voted to provide vital research funding to combat citrus greening – the deadly bacterial disease crippling Florida’s citrus industry. The five-year Farm Bill, which passed the House 251-166, includes $125 million in mandatory funding and an additional $125 million in discretionary funding -- all devoted to finding a citrus greening cure.
“Today’s vote is a win for the Florida citrus industry and Florida jobs,” said Buchanan, the author of House legislation (H.R. 853) to combat citrus greening. “Finding a cure for this destructive disease is vital to maintaining a strong economy and protecting jobs right here at home. This measure represents a crucial step forward by securing a sustainable funding source necessary to combat this pervasive disease.”
As the top citrus producing state in the nation, the Florida citrus industry generates $9 billion in economic activity and employs nearly 76,000 people. Sarasota and Manatee counties alone support $994 million in economic activity and employ 8,700 workers.
“This critical funding is a wise investment in one of Florida’s signature industries,” said Michael W. Sparks, Chief Executive Officer of Florida Citrus Mutual. “I cannot thank Congressman Buchanan enough for his tireless work on this issue.”
Buchanan is the author of separate House legislation, supported by every Florida Democrat and Republican, to provide federal funding for citrus greening research. Citrus greening first appeared in Florida citrus groves in 2005, spreading to all 32 citrus-growing counties across the state within just two years. It now affects crops in California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Hawaii. Florida is currently suffering from the smallest orange crop harvest in 24 years.
The measure now goes to the Senate for a vote.