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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.

Introduced earlier this year by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, whose district includes Burbank, Glendale, Hollywood and other Los Angeles basin cities, Assembly Bill 571 provides $5 million from the state’s general fund to the California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program (CCPDPP). Created in 2009, the program is funded primarily by a grower assessment of nine cents per 40-pound citrus box. That assessment generates about $15 million per year.

The program also receives $10 million a year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Program funding is managed by a committee of citrus growers. Hill is the chairman of that committee.

The bill unanimously passed both houses of the California Legislature and awaits approval by Gov. Brown.

Interestingly, Gatto did not come across this idea through a visit from constituents. It was borne out of watching two major industries in southern California – aerospace and the entertainment industry – either leave altogether, or downsize operations in the Golden State.

“It really hurt everybody in town because everybody depended on those jobs,” he said of the aerospace industry.

“With the entertainment industry fleeing California we’ve lost a bunch of entertainment jobs as well,” he continued. “So the more I read about what agriculture does for California and how many people it employs, and about the citrus industry in particular, I thought that we just cannot afford to lose another signature industry in California that employs so many people. I just thought this was the right thing to do.”

Until Gatto entered office three years ago he had never heard of HLB. However, in meetings with citrus growers around the time of his election he was made aware of the disease.

Gatto may appear in public service announcements that may soon be filmed to help residents understand the dangers related to the ACP and HLB and why it is so important to win this battle.

Citrus is a $2 billion industry in California that contributes an additional $1.2 billion in economic value to the state. It supports 14,000 direct jobs and another 10,000 indirect jobs in the state. The California citrus industry contributes 82 percent of fresh citrus grown in the United States.

NOTE: Western Farm Press recently established a dedicated web page with stories carrying news, identification tips, treatment and control measures related to the Asian citrus psyllid. Be sure to continually check this page as information will be updated regularly.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

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