My position on Citrus Greening
Citrus greening is a horrible plant disease that has caused incredible damage to Florida’s agriculture industry. It was first discovered in the Sunshine State in 2005, when growers found the associated bacteria affecting groves in Homestead & Florida City. The disease attacks the infected plant’s vascular system and prevents it from producing ripe fruit. It has since spread to every commercial citrus-growing county in Florida.
Our famed citrus industry is struggling to cope with the impacts of greening. Production is down 70%, and input costs have tripled. This is not sustainable, and we must continue to work on solutions before it’s too late. While on the campaign trail, we’ve heard from growers and non-growers about the devastating effect greening has had on the economy. I’ve likened the negative effects to a “pebble in the pond” ripple. Although we see the tangible evidence in green, unripe fruit and dying citrus plants, the impacts statewide don’t stop there. Banks, insurance companies, fuel companies, chemical supply companies, contract labor businesses, citrus processing plants – and all the other industries that directly or indirectly support our citrus industry – are experiencing challenges as a result of greening.
I’m the only candidate in this race with real-world experience dealing with this threat and its impacts. I bought my first citrus grove over thirty years ago, and since then I’ve remained an active grower and cattle rancher.
As Commissioner of Agriculture, I will stay laser-focused on tackling greening and the other diseases plaguing Florida’s agriculture industry. We must provide confidence to industry and external stakeholders that Florida’s leaders will wake up each day understanding the struggle our agriculture community is going through with greening. Livelihoods are at stake, and whether you’re a hibiscus farmer in Southeast Florida or a citrus grower in Polk County, I’m ready to be your champion in Tallahassee.