For several years, Citrus Mutual has actively engaged with members of the State Legislature about the threat of Huanglongbing and the industry’s efforts to protect urban and commercial citrus trees. The reception has consistently been supportive by both rural and urban legislators.

Now, as the number of HLB detections continue to rise and the quarantined areas expand, our case for state funding has never been stronger.  Fortunately, many if not most, of the legislature agrees.

In the past two years, CCM successfully advocated for $10 million in state funding for the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program.  Last year, CDFA secured an additional $2.5 million in ongoing state funding.  When combined with Federal funds, the Program received just under $25 million in Fiscal Year 2018-19 to supplement the industry’s $.09 per carton investment.

Arguably, this increase in state and federal funds has allowed the Program to effectively respond to the increasing threat of HLB without raising the assessment on growers.

This week, Assembly Members Jacqui Irwin and Monique Limon sent a letter to the Assembly Budget Committee requesting that the legislature once again approve $10 million in general funds for the Program in the 2019 budget year and ongoing.

The members’ request is the first step in securing these funds in the State Budget, which must be approved by the legislature by June 15th.

CCM would like to thank Assembly Members Irwin and Limon, as well as Assembly Members Richard Bloom, Vince Fong, and Jim Patterson for their active engagement on this issue and commitment to the California citrus industry.

On a separate but parallel path, the Governor’s January budget proposal included $2.5 million in ongoing General Funds for the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program as requested by CDFA.  This request was passed by both the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees, along with authority for CDFA to create a new citrus division and hire dedicated staff to work on the Program.  The creation of a new division within CDFA—including the addition new permanent positions—will help ensure that the Program to has sufficient dedicated resources to perform key functions throughout the year such as enforcement of quarantine areas and eradication of HLB infected trees.

Since both the Assembly and Senate committees approved CDFA’s request for $2.5 million and a dedicated division for citrus, it will be included in the final budget bill that will ultimately be signed by the Governor.