Rooney, Perdue Meet With Industry Stakeholders to Discuss State of Citrus
PUNTA GORDA, FL – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue came together with local researchers, growers, and industry stakeholders today to discuss the future of Florida’s citrus industry. The discussion highlighted the devastating impact that Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, has had on Florida’s citrus industry and what can be done going forward.
“I represent the largest citrus-producing district in the country and I have spent the last eight years trying to explain to my colleagues in Washington just how devastating this disease has been for our domestic citrus industry nationwide,” Rooney said. “Florida’s citrus industry employs over 75,000 people and accounts for $9 billion of total economic impact. After having Secretary Perdue here today, I feel confident that this new administration will make this issue the priority that it needs to be.”
Rooney and Secretary Perdue are participating in a full day of events to give the Secretary a comprehensive understanding of how citrus greening has affected every aspect of the citrus industry. The listening session featured a panel of research experts, growers, and other industry stakeholders giving firsthand accounts of their experiences with greening disease.
“We are very pleased to have Secretary Perdue in Florida after only a few months on the job and it shows his commitment to ensuring our industry survives and ultimately thrives,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florid Citrus Mutual. “Of course Congressman Tom Rooney has been a champion of Florida citrus from Day One and the roundtable he organized today was a terrific forum to educate the Secretary on what we are doing moving forward to beat this insidious disease. I am extremely optimistic about the Florida citrus industry’s future.”
Participants detailed the progress they have made to combat greening, outlined their plans for the future and talked about the short term solutions they have implemented while simultaneously continuing their work towards a long term cure.
“As the only Florida member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I have fought for years to ensure that these researchers have the funding they need to find a cure,” said Rooney. “With a lot of these programs up for reauthorization in the Farm Bill next year, it is absolutely necessary for the administration to hear exactly what the money has been used for and see how important future investments are.”
Rooney, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, has consistently secured critical research funding to find a cure for citrus greening disease. Rooney’s efforts resulted in just over $61 million in funding to combat citrus greening in the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations bill.