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How can Ag answer 'so what' question for consumers?

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  • How can agriculture use "bad news" stories as a springboard to educate consumers?
     

 

Citrus sales from a retail nursery near Webster, Texas were banned recently by the Texas Department of Agriculture after Huanglongbing (HLB) was confirmed in nursery stock, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle.

News that HLB, or citrus greening as it is commonly called, was found in a retail setting should open up the discussion about a disease that has California’s commercial citrus industry on edge and Florida’s citrus industry in sharp decline.

If nothing else, it suggests that inspectors need to continue looking across the retail and wholesale spectrum for this and other dangerous pests and diseases.

The find reveals that inspections work. Someone in Texas had the foresight to inspect at this location. Imagine the impact had the disease not been discovered and a homeowner planted a diseased tree?

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Inspections work. Just ask Napa County Agriculture Commissioner Greg Clark. He called me recently to report that his inspectors found Glassy-winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) egg masses in plants at a retail location.

Napa County is rightfully proud that it has managed to keep the GWSS from the county and impacting its prized wine grape industry.

“This proves our inspections work,” Clark told me.

While the discovery of an HLB-positive tree in a retail nursery could open a Pandora’s Box of negative publicity, it creates an opportunity for inventive communications efforts to draw consumers into discussions related to American food production.

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