Farm Ball Agreement Includes Rooney Initiative to Fight Citrus Disease
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) announced that the final House-Senate Farm Bill agreement, released today, includes his new initiative to fight citrus greening, guarantees $125 million in citrus disease research funding over the next five years, and authorizes an additional $125 million in discretionary funding designated to combat the disease.
“Getting this funding to fight citrus disease is a huge victory not just for the growers in my district, but for our entire state and everyone in this country who drinks orange juice,” Rooney said. “We’ve been working for the last three years to get this program included in the Farm Bill, and I couldn’t be happier that we were able to secure it in the final agreement reached today.
“The citrus industry creates $9 billion in annual economic impact and 76,000 jobs in Florida, but greening threatens to wipe out our growers and manufacturers. This new initiative will help save Florida’s citrus industry, protect Florida jobs, and ensure that all Americans continue to enjoy a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.”
The Farm Bill agreement creates a new competitive research and extension grant program, the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Initiative, designated to combat citrus disease. It dedicates $25 million in annual funding for the grant program, and authorizes an additional $25 million in annual discretionary spending, over the next five years. Rooney noted that as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, he would fight to ensure that the program receives the full $50 million each year.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam stated: “The farm bill directs critical funding to support Florida’s fight against citrus greening, thanks to the tireless efforts of Congressman Tom Rooney. Citrus greening is an existential threat to Florida’s $9 billion industry, and we need all the help we can get to save our state’s signature crop.”
Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, added, “I am pleased that the farm bill conference report secures funding for citrus disease research to combat the devastating effects of citrus greening that is plaguing much of Florida and threatening several other states. This is an important issue for America’s citrus growers and I am glad the farm bill can be a part of the solution.”