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ACP, HLB fight in California could get cash infusion

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  • State legislation aims to give $5 million a year towards citrus pest and disease battles in California.

California’s $2 billion dollar citrus industry has friends in high places. Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual could not be more pleased.

“We are just ecstatic that someone in Sacramento cares enough about jobs to make sure that we don’t lose everything because of this exotic pest,” Nelsen said in reaction to passage of an important piece of state legislation.

At two press events earlier this week, Nelsen and citrus grower Nick Hill joined California State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, to educate residents through local media about the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and Huanglongbing (HLB). The events were also used to publicly call on Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation giving growers more money to combat the ACP and HLB.

Vidak’s Central California district includes the Dinuba area, where several residential citrus trees infested with psyllids were discovered last week. Those trees have since been treated.

Not only is Hill’s desire to fight the ACP borne out of a common cause among his fellow citrus growers, but the latest ACP find in the Dinuba neighborhood is just a couple miles from one of Hill’s citrus groves. Because of the large number of psyllids and nymphs discovered on several residential trees, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will establish a quarantine zone that could cover about 100 square miles in Tulare and Fresno counties.

“That means my groves will be entirely within the new quarantine area,” Hill said.

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