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Agriculture Press Release

February 9, 2000

TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford delivered this letter to Governor Jeb Bush today in the wake of the citrus canker infestation in more than 1,000 acres of Dade County lime groves:

Dear Governor Bush:

The rapid spread of Asiatic citrus canker exacerbated by recent tropical storms threatens the entire U.S. commercial production of limes which occurs only in Dade County, Florida. The dreaded plant disease, Asiatic citrus canker, entered the State of Florida in 1995 less than one-half mile from the Miami International Airport in an urban area. Since that time, the spread of this infectious bacterial disease has impacted many residents of Dade, Broward and four other counties and has resulted in the expenditure of over $50 million this year alone in costs to the state and federal governments to fight and eradicate the disease. This bacterial disease is spread by physical contact, wind and rain. Regrettably, no chemical cure exists for canker and diseased and exposed trees must be destroyed to prevent spread to other areas.

I regret that the spread of Asiatic citrus canker in Dade County has now increased to emergency proportions. The finding of the spread of citrus canker into the lime groves in south Dade County is particularly painful since the lime industry is only now recovering from the devastating damage of Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992 which almost destroyed the entire industry at that time. Since finding citrus canker in the lime growing area, the federal/state citrus canker eradication effort have surveyed approximately 1600 acres, have discovered over 1000 acres of lime trees positive for the disease and are beginning to burn and quarantine the groves affected. The entire lime growing area may have to placed under quarantine to prevent further spread. Additional survey and discussions are ongoing at this time.

The dramatic spread of this imported foreign disease by this past years storm constitutes an agriculture disaster of alarming proportions. I respectfully request that you contact U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Dan Glickman, to ask that he declare the U.S. lime growing area in Florida as an agricultural disaster to allow authorization of all financial assistance available under various federal programs.

I appreciate your personal interest in this difficult and emergency situation. Thank you for your leadership and efforts to enable Florida lime growers to withstand this onslaught of introduced disease.

Sincerely,
Bob Crawford
BOB CRAWFORD
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE


For more information:

Terence McElroy
(850) 488-3022


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