The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the findings from the Dec. 2007 meeting between federal, state and industry leaders to improve America's defense against citrus greening and its insect vector, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP).

“This summit provided 65 citrus health experts the opportunity to share their ideas about enhancing cooperative prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts for citrus greening and the Asian citrus psyllid,” said Bruce Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

“This was the first step towards developing an integrated National plan that once implemented will help protect the domestic citrus and nursery industries from this devastating disease.”

Throughout the course of the meeting, five key needs emerged: (1) strong and decisive national leadership; (2) enhanced and coordinated research; (3) increased funding to support a wide array of activities; (4) improved communication among all federal, state and industry sectors and (5) better coordination between the United States and Mexico to address potential pathways and to harmonize disease and vector-control activities.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposes to develop a national plan that will result in a coordinated and holistic approach for conducting ongoing and future activities to target these pests. APHIS will select a national citrus greening/ACP coordinator who will lead the effort in the development of the national plan.

The coordinator will be responsible for forming a Leadership Steering Committee to assist in the development of the national plan and in the coordination of citrus greening/ACP management and control activities. APHIS also will work with key federal, state, tribal, citrus health experts and industry leaders to create working groups that will gather information and help address the critical issues identified at the summit. However, these working groups will have no direct influence over Federal and State appropriations or regulatory activities.

Interested parties can review the full report at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/citrus_greening/. APHIS seeks feedback on this document and invites the public to submit comments to the following e-mail address: CitrusGreeningPlan@aphis.usda.gov. Individuals also can mail comments to the Citrus Health Response Program, APHIS, USDA, 920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 200, Raleigh, NC 27606-5213. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before May 9.

Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing, is one of the more serious diseases of citrus fruit. The Asian citrus psyllid is the primary insect vector that spreads citrus greening from infected trees to healthy trees as the insect feeds on a plant. Currently, there are 30 counties in Florida quarantined for citrus greening. Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as 32 counties in Texas are quarantined for the Asian citrus psyllid.