USDA joins battle against citrus greening

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SARASOTA-- The federal government is joining the battle against a detrimental disease that may have impacted as much as 75% of Florida's citrus crop.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease carried by an insect, first discovered in the Homestead area in 2005. If a citrus tree is affected, the fruit will turn green and the tree will end up dying.

In response, the USDA is forming a multi-agency emergency response framework to battle the disease, and hopefully come up with a cure.

"I feel that if everyone steps in and gives a hand, they will find something to cure it," said John Albritton, with Albritton Fruit in Sarasota.

Albritton has noticed the greening taking place in his orange groves and worries that one day there won't be any oranges left.

"Because of the citrus greening, we decided to expand our business into a deli and produce market. We also have cattle ranches and other investments that will hopefully protect us if this does take over our groves," said Albritton.

Greening is affecting the state's $9 billion citrus industry. Lawmakers like Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Vern Buchanan are also interested in providing funding. The lawmakers want to allocate $30 million a year for the next few years on researching a cure for the disease.