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Agriculture Press Release

May 16, 2001

Bronson asks law enforcement for help to reduce ag crime 

COCOA BEACH Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson urged law enforcement officers today to step up efforts to reduce agricultural crime. 

Speaking to officers attending a statewide agriculture crime unit seminar here this morning, Bronson said two major areas need attention.

First, law enforcement should place a greater priority on detecting, investigating and ultimately apprehending those responsible for thefts of cattle, horses and farm equipment. Such thefts cost Florida farmers millions of dollars each year.  

Bronson also called on police and sheriff departments throughout the state to assist both the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep illegal agricultural products, including those that could spread animal and plant pests and diseases, from entering Florida. 

For example, citrus canker, a bacterial disease that afflicts citrus, was illegally brought into the Miami area six years ago, and the state and federal government have spent more than $200 million in an ongoing battle to eradicate it. Currently, the state and federal governments are working tirelessly at both Florida and the nation's borders to keep "foot and mouth disease" out of the United States, as introduction of that disease would devastate the cattle industry. 

Bronson praised law enforcement officers for their vigilance in helping protect agriculture, Florida's second largest industry with an economic impact estimated at $54 billion a year. But he urged them to redouble their efforts the keep the industry strong.  

He also reiterated his goal for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which he took over earlier this week as Commissioner.  

"I pledge to all Floridians that I am committed to making this department the finest agriculture and consumer-protection agency in the nation," Bronson said. 

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