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USDA Announces $23M In New Grants To Fight Citrus Greening

Greening is a disease that weakens citrus trees. The fruit becomes unusable. Photo by Amy Green / WMFE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $23 million dollars in grant funding to combat citrus greening. The entire state of Florida is in a quarantine for the disease that causes trees to produce bitter fruit and eventually die.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said some progress has been made combating the disease. The USDA has already awarded $63 million in citrus greening grants.

“Been working on the genetics as well, so I think in the short term and the long term, we’ve seen improvements and seen ways in which we can potentially contain this a bit,” Vilsack said. “But it’s still a major problem and an issue we need to get our arms around.

Applications for the grants are due June 1, and will be awarded in the fall. The citrus industry employs 70,000 Floridians.

“With this announcement it brings the total to nearly $100 million,” Vilsack said. “It is a reflection of something that has obviously impacted the industry in a very serious way in a very short time. So we don’t have a minute to lose.”

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Abe Aboraya

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