ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) - Federal agriculture officials are allocating millions of dollars toward research to solve problems caused by the devastating citrus greening bacteria.
United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Associated Press in a statement Thursday that $25 million in funding comes from the 2014 Farm Bill. Another $6.5 million will be sent to projects through a group formed to combat greening.
The disease affects Florida's $9 billion citrus industry, with growers seeing problems this season. The orange crop is approaching its lowest harvest in decades. Experts blame greening.
Greening first enters the tree via the jumping plant lice know as Asian citrus psyllid. The lice suck on leaf sap and leave behind bacteria. The bacteria starve the tree of nutrients, leading to sour fruit. The tree eventually dies.