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Citrus Pests Costing Taxpayers Millions

In California, citrus pests are a real problem. The Asian citrus psyllid insect, in particular, causes millions of dollars in damage to the fragile trees around Ventura County and nearby areas. These pests carry disease, diseases that kill citrus plants such as lemon trees, orange trees, and lime trees. Trees found infected by these bugs must be carefully removed from the grove to avoid infecting nearby plants.

Industry group the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program is dedicated to figuring out a way to deal with this massive insect problem. The state of California became involved in 2009 after it was determined the state’s citrus crops would be vastly depleted, but to no avail. While the psyllid insect hasn’t completely taken over CA’s citrus groves, its invasiveness should not be underestimated.

Community groups complain the state shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money on these crops. While the commercial farmers in this part of CA had to date spent over $16,000,000 to protect their plants from the bug, the state has spent several million (the exact amount has not been disclosed) to try and help.

This case brings up an important discussion: how involved should government be in commercial farming and agricultural pest issues? While regulators maintain strict standards regarding pesticides and chemical pest control products farmers have always had the ultimate control over what they choose to do about bug issues. Is it necessary for governments to get involved? And if so, at what cost to the taxpayers?

When a state’s crops get involved, it seems almost anything is fair game. In California, produce like citrus makes up a huge portion of the state’s economy, and other flora like flowers and nuts are also vital to the CA GDP. If the government doesn’t step in to “bail out” farmers infested with pests, the state could suffer as a whole and prices for some of the state’s main products could rise drastically nationwide.

In California, such backlash was heard that the state decided to switch tactics and stop spending to combat the Asian citrus bug. While farmers were not happy to lose the financial support, many say they now have more control over what they’re using to control pests on their land.

If you live in an area balmy enough to grow citrus like Louisiana or Florida, it’s a good idea to have a pest control professional check your yard for the Asian citrus bug every year.

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