California citrus representatives from CCM, Sunkist, and Wonderful Citrus rendezvoused in Washington, D.C. a week ago with allies from Texas Citrus Mutual and Florida Citrus Mutual to thank staff and Congressional representatives for their efforts to increase operational assistance and research implementation specific to HLB and ACP programs. A budget increase for both items was realized when Congress finally approved a USDA budget in February. The increase means more funds for the California program designed to find ACP and HLB before it finds the commercial citrus industry. Research implementation falls under the jurisdiction of a USDA program entitled Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC). The focus here is to take research projects that show promise and place them in the field to determine practical application for growers and shippers. California will see benefits from both budget augmentations.
“Box lunch” briefings were held for both House and Senate staff at which the three state representatives discussed how the dollars would be used and what the ROI has been year to date in each state. The goal for the luncheon briefings was to say thanks and seek support for sustaining the effort. Were we successful? One can take the words from a senior staff member on the House Agricultural Committee: “this was one of the best briefing sessions that I have ever attended and I have attended many. You all were to the point and very concise.”