Press Release

Congressman Cuellar Helps Secure $5.5 Million in Additional Federal Funding for Combating Citrus Greening

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WASHINGTON, DC, December 18, 2015 | Riley Brands (202-226-0507) | comments
Today Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced he had worked with representatives from other citrus-growing regions, including California and Florida, to secure $5.5 million in additional federal funding in the proposed government funding package to tackle citrus greening disease and aid the citrus industry in Texas, Florida and California. The funding will come in a combination of a one-time funding increase and a previously approved allocation of $2 million.

Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease, greens ripe citrus and misshapes the fruit, making it bitter and unmarketable. The effect of this disease on the $11.2 billion U.S. citrus industry has been damaging, especially in the Rio Grande Valley and Florida. The federal government’s main response to citrus greening disease is implemented by two groups: the HLB Multi-Agency Coordination task force (MAC) and the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP). Both groups are under the jurisdiction of the federal government but also work with state departments of agriculture and the citrus industry to combat the disease.

Through the proposed government funding package, Congressman Cuellar secured an additional $5.5 million for control and management of the disease across the country through September 2017. This money is a one-time allocation on top of the $50 million announced this summer for a total of $55.5 million.

Dale Murden of Texas Citrus Mutual, a non-profit trade association representing Texas citrus growers, owns a citrus grove in the Rio Gande Valley and has personally seen the effects of the disease since it was first positively identified in the Valley in 2008.

“It is becoming a very wide-spread problem in the Valley… as serious the situation in Florida already is,” Murden said. “Can you imagine the Rio Grande Valley without citrus trees? Because that’s what could happen. Quite frankly, it can wipe this industry out and we’ll never have citrus here again until there’s a cure, and there is no cure,” he added.

“Citrus greening is beginning to become a real problem for Texas citrus and has devastated citrus groves across the country,” Congressman Cuellar said. “The $55.5 million in federal funding is crucial for the fight to save the citrus industry and protect the livelihoods of citrus growers in my district and across the Rio Grande Valley.

“We must do everything we can to protect citrus in Texas. I would like to thank my House colleagues, including Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX-15), Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), David Valadao (R-CA-21) and Thomas Rooney (R-FL-17), for their commitment to combating the citrus greening disease and for their assistance in securing these funds in the government funding package.”

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