USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack used a Florida grocery store as the backdrop to announce another $23 million to fund research and extension projects to combat citrus greening disease.
This funding is available through the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE), part of the 2014 Farm Bill.
Huanglongbing (HLB), commonly known as citrus greening, threatens the future viability of the citrus industry in the United States. The disease has impacted more than 75 percent of Florida’s citrus crop and is a big concern of California’s fresh citrus market, which is already trying to combat the insect that spreads the disease.
“Citrus greening threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations,” said Vilsack. “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 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 southern 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 presence of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), a vector for HLB.
The CDRE grants will be administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 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. Examples of funded projects include a grant to the University of Florida to develop a bactericide that can be applied to infected citrus trees to reduce or eliminate pathogens; a project at Kansas State University to develop a therapeutic delivery system that will prevent Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus from infecting plants or prevent the development of HLB in infected citrus; and, a grant at the University of California, Davis that focuses on using new genetic approaches to managing the ACP.
Pre-applications that include a Stakeholder Relevance Statement are due June 1, 2015. Applicants who are invited to submit full applications based on an industry relevancy review of the pre-applications will be required to submit full applications by Aug. 14, 2015. See the request for applications on the NIFA website for more information.
For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.