Effort To Stop Citrus Greening Gets $20 Million In Spending Bill

The U.S. spending bill for the federal government that President Obama is expected to sign soon includes funding to fight citrus greening, by providing the USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service with $20 million for "multi-agency coordination involving the citrus industry, federal and state regulatory personnel, and researchers to combat the spread and eventual eradication of citrus greening."

Congress is directing APHIS to use reimbursable and cooperative agreements with federal and state entities to respond to the growing threat. USDA is also directed to provide the House and Senate Appropriations Committees with a spending plan for the $20 million, which must be spent by Sept. 30, 2015, within 90 days of the bill's enactment.

"We appreciate all of the hard work Congressman Rooney and Senator Nelson put into securing these funds," Andrew Meadows, communications director for Florida Citrus Mutual, told The Produce News. "To beat HLB, we are going to have to continue to receive the USDA's full commitment, and certainly this budget carve-out goes a long way in making sure the partnership between the USDA and the U.S citrus industry remains strong."

The funding bill also provides a $53 million increase for FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. Along with new funding comes report language asking FDA to implement a comprehensive training program for inspectors, and to ensure food safety rules are risk-based and "economically feasible to both the agency and the industry."

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