Issues of Interest

ORIENTAL FRUIT FLY The appearance of the Oriental fruit fly in South Florida in late August has raised serious concern for Florida’s agricultural industry. The fly infests a variety of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, bananas, peppers, mangoes and avocado, or about 95% of the crops grown in the area. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has declared a state of agricultural emergency in Miami-Dade County, which is a $1.6 billion industry. The State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have quarantined an 85-square-mile area around the areas where detection has been made. They will treat a 1.5-square-mile section around areas where the fly has been identified with an insecticide designed to kill male flies.

FRESH FROM FLORIDA PARTNERSHIP  The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association announced a partnership to expand the “Fresh From Florida: On the Menu” program. More than 75 restaurants throughout the state will highlight produce and proteins grown in the Sunshine State. Visit the website for more information.

CITRUS GREENING UPDATE Florida Citrus CEO Michael Sparks recommended to a legislative committee that the State use an incentive program that would encourage landowners to kill abandoned trees. Sparks estimates there are 130,000 acres of citrus groves that have been abandoned because of the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads the citrus greening disease.  He argues the abandoned trees enable the disease to spread to healthy groves and that if landowners do not kill the trees, the State should consider taking away the landowner’s agricultural tax classification. Commissioner Putnam has requested $8.5 million for research in fiscal year 2016-17 to address citrus greening, along with $7.7 million for the Citrus Health Response Program and $2.5 million for the Citrus Inspection Trust Fund.

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