Recently signed into law by Governor Brown, SB 243 is a bill by Senator Cathleen Galgiani that increases the funds available to the California Department of Food and Agriculture to fight the deadly citrus disease, Huanglongbing (HLB), and to stop the invasive pest, Asian citrus psyllid (ACP), from spreading throughout the state.
“I am thrilled by the quick action of Governor Brown to sign SB 243. This bill will help protect California citrus trees from being devastated by ACP, the tiny pest that spreads the deadly HLB disease,” said Senator Galgiani. “We have witnessed the destruction of Florida’s citrus industry and have seen the thousands of acres of HLB-infected groves abandoned by farmers because there is no cure. We cannot follow in Florida’s footsteps. We must keep working to stop the disease from spreading. SB 243 will appropriate existing reserve funds assessed from citrus growers to fund essential trapping and treatment work throughout California.”
Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is an invasive pest that feeds on citrus plants’ leaves and stems and causes shoot deformation and plant stunting. More importantly, ACP may transmit Huanglongbing (HLB), a deadly bacterial plant disease that results in inedible fruit and, ultimately, tree mortality. According to CDFA, HLB is the most devastating disease of citrus in the world. Currently, there is no cure and infected plants must be destroyed.
The first discovery of ACP and HLB in the United States was in Florida in 1998 and early September 2005, respectively. Within two years, the disease HLB spread to all citrus-producing counties and infected over half of all citrus trees in the state. Research from the University of Florida has shown that the economic damage due to HLB in Florida alone has resulted in a loss of $7.8 billion and 7,513 jobs between 2007 and 2014, reducing the industry to nearly a quarter of the size it once was. The disease HLB has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and most recently, California.
In 2008, the pest ACP was first identified in Southern California. In the last three years, ACP has rapidly spread north into commercial citrus groves and residential trees, and quarantine boundaries have expanded to encompass one-third of the state. Meanwhile, in March 2012, HLB was detected in a residential, multi-grafted citrus tree in Los Angeles County. The tree was destroyed; however, the disease was detected again in 2015, and now 46 trees located in the surrounding areas have tested positive for HLB. The new finds and the rapid northern migration are of great concern, said officials.
Senator Galgiani represents the Fifth Senate District which includes all of San Joaquin County and portions of both Stanislaus County and Sacramento County.