SENATOR GALGIANI: STOP THE DESTRUCTION OF CALIFORNIA CITRUS
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, chaired by Senator Cathleen Galgiani, today held an informational hearing titled “Crisis in the Golden State: Asian Citrus Psyllid’s Threat to Destroy California Citrus.” California is facing a serious infestation of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), an invasive pest that threatens to kill every California citrus tree. As already seen in Florida, this tiny pest and the disease it carries, Huanglongbing (HLB), has the ability to devastate both the citrus industry as well as residential citrus trees. This hearing highlighted the urgent need for additional support to not only mitigate the spread of ACP but to find a cure for HLB, develop early detection methods to identify infected trees, and improve enforcement and compliance with citrus treatment and transportation regulations.
The hearing opened with a view into the potential future of California citrus, as Andrew Meadows of Florida Citrus Mutual described the history and current situation in Florida. In that state, ACP and HLB are well established and have decimated the citrus industry to one-quarter of the size it once was. The economic damage due to HLB in Florida alone has resulted in a loss of $7.8 billion and 8,000 jobs since 2007.
Now detected in California, with the latest find occurring as recently as Friday, HLB is threatening to expand throughout the LA basin and into commercial citrus groves, killing both cherished residential citrus trees and threatening the livelihoods and local economies of those dependent on a healthy citrus industry. The reality of HLB taking hold in California is chilling.
“We must do everything we can to support the effort to stopping these ‘zombie bug’ psyllids from killing California’s citrus trees. If infected, these psyllids bite and feed on citrus trees, transmit Huanglongbing, and give these trees a death-sentence since there is no cure for this disease. Through today’s hearing, through budget requests, and through legislation, I am in full support to help protect California’s citrus from experiencing the devastation that has occurred in Florida,” said Senator Cathleen Galgiani. “We can’t allow HLB to take over and force growers to abandon citrus groves, and we cannot let our residential trees, some of which have been planted by our grandparents, to wither and die. ACP and HLB must be stopped. This crisis must be stopped.”