BRADENTON – On Tuesday, The U.S. Senate passed the long-awaited farm bill, following two years of partisan disagreement and failed negotiations between Democrats and Republicans. The vote is expected to be the last challenge in passing the $1 trillion spending measure.
As part of the bill, which is nearly a thousand pages and reauthorizes hundreds of programs for agriculture, nutrition, dairy production, conservation and international food aid, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) was able to secure funding for research to combat the deadly bacterial disease crippling Florida’s citrus industry.
H.R. 853 to, which passed the House last week, includes $125 million in mandatory funding and an additional $125 million in discretionary funding -- all devoted to finding a citrus greening cure. The measure now goes to the President’s desk for signature.
“Finding a cure for this destructive disease is essential to maintaining a strong economy and protecting jobs in Sarasota and Manatee Counties,” said Buchanan. “Let’s get this critical legislation signed into law.”
The farm bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, 68 to 32. President Obama is expected to sign it into law.
As the top citrus producing state in the nation, the Florida citrus industry generates $9 billion in economic activity and employs nearly 76,000 people. Sarasota and Manatee Counties alone support $994 million in economic activity and employ 8,700 workers.
“This is incredibly good news for those of us in the trenches, as well as for Florida's economy,” said Mac Carraway, President of SMR Farms in Lakewood Ranch. “Many thanks are due Congressman Buchanan for his tireless efforts to move this initiative along for all Floridians.”
Florida is currently suffering from the smallest orange crop harvest in 24 years. Citrus greening first appeared in Florida citrus groves in 2005, spreading to all 32 citrus-growing counties across the state within just two years. It now affects crops in California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Hawaii.