The search for a cure

Leadership is everything. As the feckless 113th Congress failed to pass the 2013 Farm Bill, Florida’s legislature resolved to address the Florida citrus industry’s greatest challenge — the disease of citrus greening, or HLB. During the 2013 session, the Florida Legislature funded $9.5 million from the state budget for citrus greening research and other activities to fight the disease, which has spread throughout the state since it was first discovered in June 1998 in South Florida. The viability of the Florida citrus industry is at stake. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
Huanglongbing (HLB) is a Chinese word that literally means “Yellow Dragon Disease,” which apply describes the symptoms of greening. In short, the bacteria spreads from tree to tree by an insect known as a psyllid, “clogging” the vascular network of the citrus tree, turning the leaves yellow, resulting in defoliation and death over time. Currently, there is no cure. Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam has stated, “There is no question this is an existential threat to the [citrus] industry.”
Many of our local legislators helped secure this funding, including Ben Albritton from Wauchula, Denise Grimsley from Sebring, and Seth McKeel from Lakeland. Other politicians and industry groups were very involved in the initiative to fund this important research. In my last column for Central Florida Ag News, I described that important water law legislation only happens in a representative system of government when affected citizens do the hard work and advocacy necessary to promote such legislation. The quality of Florida’s leaders in agriculture, both public and private, is as good as it has ever been. Despite the challenges that farmers face daily, the agricultural community is indeed fortunate to have such able leaders. Support them!
BIO: A Winter Haven native, Doug received his B.S. degree in 1975 from Duke University and his law degree in 1979 from Stetson University. Doug currently practices in Peterson & Myers, P.A.’s Winter Haven office.

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