United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced more than $1.5 million in funding to expand bio-control efforts to fight Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. This action is the first designation of funds by the Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group (HLB MAC Group) since it was established in December.
The funds have enabled USDA to sign cooperative agreements with Florida (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services), Texas (Texas Citrus Pest and Disease Management Corporation), and California (Citrus Research Board and California Department of Food and Agriculture) to coordinate the fight against citrus greening. These joint efforts will significantly increase the production of the parasitic wasp known to control populations of Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the pest that spreads citrus greening in citrus trees.
California, Florida and Texas have developed biocontrol expansion plans that factor in regional elements in order to quickly bolster biocontrol production and release. This will expand the ability to control the ACP on a larger scale, especially in urban areas where citrus trees grow in yards.
The HLB MAC Group was formed last December to foster greater coordination among federal and state agencies in responding to citrus greening. The group includes representatives from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), as well as state departments of agriculture and the citrus industry. The HLB MAC Group serves to coordinate and prioritize federal research with industry’s efforts to complement and fill research gaps, reduce unnecessary duplication, speed progress, and more quickly provide practical tools for citrus growers to use.
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