Late Update: USDA Released Additional Section 32 Funds

It was announced today at the Citrus Canker Technical Advisory Task Force meeting in Lake Alfred, that USDA has released an additional $100 million of Section 32 funds for canker compensation. It is anticipated that this should cover IFOs through the month of August 2005. Applications will be mailed out by March 16, 2006.

Attached are articles regarding yesterday’s meeting at the Indian River Citrus League. We previously provided you with a copy of the draft Citrus Health Response Plan (CHRP). The presentation from representatives of the Florida Department of Plant Industries (DPI) and USDA left most in the room with more questions than answers. While there are certainly many good concepts and requirements contained in the CHRP, the general consensus, to quote the little lady from the old Wendy’s commercials was, “Where’s the beef??”

The overview is that the CHRP is designed to establish minimum standards in order to ensure an economically sustainable citrus industry. The industry is broken down into the following elements:

  1. Nursery & Budwood;
  2. Production;
  3. Harvesting and Hauling;
  4. Fresh Fruit Packinghouse; and
  5. Processing.

There is also discussion of dooryard, residential citrus.

Each section focuses on Registration, Training & Education, Self Inspecting, Surveying & Reporting and Certification. Many issues of grave concern have not been addressed. For example, there currently is no requirement to remove infected trees. The discussion focused on various options from defoliating to pulling trees and surrounding 100 foot radius, but there is no consensus, recommendation or requirement. The comment that resonated with me was that DPI will be required to inspect groves being picked for fresh fruit for canker at least 90 days prior to picking and they will not be interested in the condition of the grove 91 days before picking.

Regarding existing IFO’s, the only discussion contained in the report again makes reference to the USDA stated commitment to “…continue to seek funding to compensate growers who had trees removed prior to the halt of eradication activities on Jan. 10, 2006.”

The CHRP is in draft form and written comments are encouraged. The next version will be released sometime in the next 30-60 days. the goal is to have the final Rule in place by July 1, 2006. There will be workshops held, most likely in various locations around the state.

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