CCM Clarifies Response to AB 571 Veto
very first navel orange tree was planted in Riverside over 120 years ago, and today,
Californians enjoy a myriad of citrus varieties year round. Over 85% of the U.S.
fresh citrus crop is produced in California, and brand names such as Sunkist and Cuties are household names throughout the world. But this iconic
California industry, according to California Citrus Mutual (CCM) today, has
been left for destruction as a result of Governor
Brown’s veto of Assembly Bill (AB) 571.
a follow-up statement to the one issued on October 7 (and reported on CaliforniaAg Today), CCM President Joel Nelson
reports, “I believe the Governor was not accurately informed about the industry’s
efforts to partner with his Administration.”
background, the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is an invasive and relentless insect
that can carry a deadly and incurable citrus plant disease called Huanglongbing
(HLB) that has become endemic in Southern California, where the number of
citrus trees in backyards is greater than in commercial production in the
Florida, the disease has caused significant financial losses for both the
industry and the state economy. California citrus growers knew a proactive
approach was necessary to prevent the same disastrous outcome in California. In
2009, industry leaders designed a program funded through grower assessments to
stop the ACP. Over four years, growers have assessed themselves $60 million,
which has been augmented by $40 million from the USDA.
industries and governments have spent millions of dollars worldwide on research
seeking a cure for the disease. But, until a cure is discovered, the best hope
of preventing the disease is to control its vector, ACP.
California citrus industry has funded research at UC Riverside, where
scientists have identified a natural predator of the ACP, a beneficial insect
native to Pakistan called Tamarixia
projects have proven Tamarixia can be a viable treatment option in urban areas,
but additional funding is necessary to get the program running at sufficient
levels. In the meantime, the pest marches on into major citrus producing areas
such as Ventura, Riverside and San Diego Counties, plus in the backyards of
homes throughout Southern California. Now it is being discovered in the largest
citrus producing area of the state, the San Joaquin Valley.
571 (Gatto – Los Angeles) would have allowed a one-time appropriation of $5 million
from the State General Fund to supplement research and necessary programs to
stop this insect before it can spread the disease in California,” says Nelsen. “Assemblyman Gatto recognizes that the
state’s current level of support, which is zero, is inadequate.”
Governor Brown vetoed the bill Monday incorrectly stating, “This bill would
appropriate $5 million annually from the General Fund,” and suggested working
through the budget process.
believe the Governor was not accurately informed about the industry’s efforts
to partner with his Administration,” states Nelsen. “AB 571 was meant to
provide a one-time appropriation, yet the Governor incorrectly stated in his
veto message that the bill provided an annual budget amendment.”
suggested we work through the budget process. We did that, and members of the legislature,
led by Senator Kevin DeLeon (D-Los
Angeles), approved a one million dollar augmentation to the Department of Food
and Agriculture for pest eradication. The Department of Finance has refused to
release those dollars,” continued Nelsen.
571 was heard in four committees and on the floors of the State Senate and Assembly.
In total, 150 votes were cast by members of the Legislature, all in support of AB
Furthermore, the legislation
includes the following statement:
Legislature finds and declares that the California citrus industry creates one
billion eight hundred million dollars ($1,800,000,000) in citrus fruit, another
one billion two hundred million dollars ($1,200,000,000) in economic activity,
and employs an estimated 25,000 people in the state.”
concludes, “This bill was an investment to protect the production of
California’s iconic commodity—citrus. We did what the Governor suggested, and
it was ignored. By vetoing AB 571, the Governor has responded that California
citrus does not have a future.”
Labels: California citrus abandoned, California's First Tree Crop Abandoned, CCM Clarifies Response to AB 571 Veto, Citrus research UC Riverside, Governor, Governor Vetoes Citrus Bill, Joel Nelson, Vetoes AB 571