The Florida citrus market has suffered a loss of more than $4.5 billion in crops and is down an estimated 8,300 jobs due to citrus greening disease.
In an effort to find a solution for the serious disease, Bayer CropScience announced a collaboration with the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation to create a three-year grant program for citrus greening research. The $200,000 grant was awarded to the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CDRF) at a dinner during the 70th FFVA Annual Meeting.
Citrus greening, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), is a devastating disease impacting the nation's orange and other citrus crops. Healthy citrus trees can produce fruit for multiple decades, however, once infected with HLB, trees can yield discolored, inedible fruit and can die in as little as five years.
More than 70 percent of U.S. households regularly consume orange juice and other citrus foods, and approximately 80 percent of U.S. orange juice is made from Florida oranges. By reducing the productivity of citrus groves, citrus greening is significantly impacting the future of Florida citrus production and the American diet.
"With this new initiative we continue our focus on finding innovative alternatives to improve the sustainability and economic value of crops from the field all the way to consumers," said Rob Schrick, horticulture business lead, Bayer CropScience. "Florida Specialty Crop Foundation and CRDF are natural partners for us in this effort, as both organizations have the citrus expertise and outstanding research capabilities needed to combat this serious disease."
In its first year, the grant will support CRDF's existing research on HLB and Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), the insect that serves as the vector for HLB. For the remaining years, the collaboration partners will convene to discuss the state of the industry and determine the necessary research.
The collaborative grant project is funded by Bayer CropScience and administered by Florida Specialty Crop Foundation.
"Bayer CropScience is dedicated to providing innovative solutions for the food chain," said Florida Specialty Crop Foundation Executive Director Sonia Tighe. "We are honored that Bayer continues to partner with our foundation to meet the needs of growers and the citrus industry."
For the past 150 years, Bayer has been committed to their mission of providing "Science For A Better Life," and this citrus greening research grant is another example of that commitment. In addition to the three-year grant, Bayer also donated $10,000 to Farmers Feeding Florida (FFF), a food recovery program instituted by the Florida Association of Food Banks (FAFB).
FFF works to provide much-needed relief to growers and packers left with excess produce and Florida residents in need of healthy food. Bayer's donation will help to further FFF's mission and support the Florida food industry.
For additional information on Bayer CropScience sustainability initiatives please visit http://www.bayercropscience.us/our-commitment/citrus-greening.