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Approximately $23 million available for citrus greening research

At an Orlando grocery store filled with Florida citrus, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $23 million in USDA funding to support research and extension projects for producers fighting citrus greening disease.

Huanglongbing, commonly known as citrus greening, threatens the future viability of the citrus industry in the United States, having infected more than 75 percent of the Florida citrus crop. This funding is available through the Citrus Disease Research & Extension Program, part of the 2014 farm bill.

"Citrus greening threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations," Vilsack said in a press release. "It will take continued collaboration with growers, state governments and researchers to find viable solutions to end this harmful disease. Only long-term solutions through research will help to stop this disease that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of citrus producers and workers and billions of dollars in sales."

Since the initial detection of Huanglongbing in Florida in 2005, the disease has affected the vast majority of Florida's citrus-producing areas. HLB has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and small areas in Texas and one residential tree in California. It has also been detected in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB.

The CDRE grants will be administered by the National Institute of Food & Agriculture. NIFA will give priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary and include clearly defined mechanisms to communicate results to producers. Successful applicants will be expected to engage stakeholders to ensure solutions are commercially feasible. Projects should also include an economic analysis of the costs associated with proposed solutions. In fiscal year 2014, NIFA awarded $23 million to fight citrus greening through CDRE.