Friday, October 4, 2013

Ventura County Star: State Senate Passes Bill Funding Citrus Disease Research

Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star
by Staff Reports

Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s bill to increase funding for fighting citrus diseases and the pests that carry them, particularly the Asian citrus psyllid insect, is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill passed the Senate Monday on a 38-0 vote.

AB 571, which Gatto, D-Los Angeles, introduced in late February, adds $5 million a year from the general fund to the citrus disease management account in the Department of Food and Agriculture fund.

The money would pay for research and programs to fight citrus diseases and the insects that carry them, including huanglongbing, the tree-killing disease carried by the citrus psyllid also known as citrus greening disease...

...The state’s citrus industry is worth $1.8 billion and employs an estimated 25,000 people, according to Gatto.

In late July, Food and Agriculture officials extended for four years a program enabling citrus producers to help pay for ongoing efforts to protect against threats such as diseases to the citrus industry. Producer assessments this year are expected to generate $15 million for the program.

Officials hope to eradicate the invasive psyllid before it can infect citrus trees with the huanglongbing disease bacteria. The psyllid has spread through Southern California since being discovered here in 2008. Ventura County had been the most northern reaches where the insect was found until insects were found in Tulare County.

Brown has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto the bill. Otherwise, it will become law.

You can read this article and more by visiting the Ventura County Star HERE

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Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake.

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