California Budget Includes HLB Funding

Len WilcoxCalifornia Corner

The Asian citrus psyllid transmits HLB.

Funding for Asian citrus psyllid (ACP)/huanglongbing (HLB) programs and the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Division (CPDPD), an agency of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), were included in the 2020-2021 California budget. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the budget on June 29.

The CPDPD, known also as the Citrus Division, utilizes state, federal and grower-generated funds to prevent the spread of ACP and HLB. Casey Creamer, president and CEO of California Citrus Mutual (CCM), pointed out that with the economic recession and severe governmental budget shortfalls created by the COVID-19 pandemic, citrus funding was in jeopardy. He added that “CCM applauds the governor, CDFA Secretary Ross and the Citrus Division leadership, and members of the legislature who advocated for and supported this funding.”

The CPDPD is funded in partnership between the citrus growers and the state and federal governments. The Citrus Division’s nearly $40 billion per year budget is spent on activities to prevent the spread of HLB to commercial citrus groves. Maintaining support for this essential program is a high priority for CCM.

Casey Creamer

“We were concerned about it with the budget challenges,” Creamer said, in an AgNet West interview. “The state was cutting in a lot of areas. We were also optimistic in the fact that this program is absolutely vital. The state recognizes that stopping the spread of HLB is a critical, important task for the state.”

Creamer pointed out that the growers direct a lot of their money into this program to help keep commercial groves viable.

He added, “I don’t think people realize that the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program operates off of some of that funding. That’s a big deal for the industry, not only to help with the fight against the spread of the disease and the insect, but also help with public awareness, especially in Southern California. Without that, I don’t know if we would have such a low HLB find number here in California, especially in commercial groves.”

Creamer said the potential for HLB is in a lot of backyard trees in Southern California.

“Citrus is a historical crop in California.” Creamer said. “As the commercial groves moved out of Los Angeles, a lot of homes were built and people kept the heritage of a citrus tree in Southern California. So that’s where the disease is, and that’s where the fight is being maintained. There’s a huge education outreach effort in Southern California.”

In conclusion, he said, “Without that public-private partnership, the situation here in California would be drastically worse, and the entire industry could be affected.”

Citrus also fared well in the Florida state budget. See more here.