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USDA puts $5.8 million toward stopping spread of Asian citrus psyllid in California

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced the commitment of $5.8 million in funding to stop the spread of Asian citrus psyllid in California.

The Asian citrus psyllid can carry citrus greening, which is one of the most devastating citrus diseases in the world. This funding is important to stop the spread of this pest in California now before it seriously damages citrus production in the state.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working cooperatively with the California Department of Food and Agriculture on an Asian citrus psyllid program. The funds will be used for intensive surveillance for Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing. It also will support quarantine regulations, as well as outreach and education about the pest to California's nursery owners, the citrus industry and the public.

APHIS confirmed California's first detection of Asian citrus psyllid in San Diego County on Sept. 2. Since the initial detection, psyllids also have been detected in Imperial County. All of the psyllid pest detections in California have tested negative for the disease citrus greening.

APHIS also is conducting cooperative Asian citrus psyllid surveillance in Texas due to the presence of the pest there. Following detections of the insect in Louisiana, APHIS supported a cooperative Asian citrus psyllid surveillance effort and is working with the state to develop a long-term surveillance plan. In addition, APHIS is working cooperatively with Mexico's Secretaria de Agricultura, Ganaderia, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentacion to provide assistance, training and resources to determine the extent of the Asian citrus psyllid infestation and stop its spread.

The Asian citrus psyllid is a small insect that feeds on citrus plants and trees and the first U.S. detection was in 1998 in Florida. The pest's feeding causes minor damage; however, it can transmit a bacterial disease known as citrus greening, which can kill healthy citrus trees in five to eight years. While it does not pose a human health risk, it greatly reduces fruit production and will cause economic losses. Once infected, there is no known cure for a tree with the disease. To date, citrus greening only has been detected in Florida and Louisiana.

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