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JOHANNS ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN CITRUS CANKER COMPENSATION
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2006-Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced $100 million in additional funding to continue compensating commercial citrus growers in Florida for losses resulting from citrus canker eradication efforts and an interim rule that establishes the eligibility of nursery owners for these funds.
"Today, I'm pleased to announce $100 million in funding as part of our effort to fulfill our commitment to compensate nursery owners and commercial producers who have had their livelihoods impacted by citrus canker," said Johanns. "This funding will provide needed support for the recovery of affected nurseries and groves that are the heart of Florida's citrus industry."
With today's announcement, USDA has provided a total of approximately $536 million in compensation that will go to producers and nursery owners affected by citrus canker and brings USDA closer to addressing all outstanding compensation claims.
The provisions for the nursery stock compensation program are contained in an interim rule that appears today in the Federal Register and takes effect immediately. Anyone interested in reading or commenting on the rule, can go to www.regulations.gov. The rule establishes standards and allocations that make nursery owners who had trees destroyed under the program before Jan. 10, 2006, eligible for the funding announced today.
On Jan. 10, 2006, it was determined that a series of hurricanes beginning in 2004 spread citrus canker so extensively that eradication was no longer scientifically sound or logistically possible. The established program was modified to stop the practice of destroying trees within 1,900 feet of an infected tree and to eliminate the compensation provision
In February, USDA announced a new science-based approach to managing citrus canker that focuses on maintaining the health of Florida's citrus while acknowledging that eradication is no longer possible. The goal of the new Citrus Health Response Program is to establish accepted standards to propagate, produce, harvest, process and ship healthy Florida citrus. This approach was developed through a thorough process involving close partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, scientists and industry experts.
USDA will continue efforts to identify compensation funding for eligible claims while working closely with the citrus industry and citrus-producing states to maintain markets for Florida citrus and safeguarding against the further spread of the disease.