Last week, U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., and Al Lawson, D-Fla., led a bipartisan letter with members of the Florida congressional delegation to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting an expeditious approval of Vismax, a biochemical pesticide used for citrus greening.
Citrus greening, a disease that impairs trees’ ability to take in nourishment, has negatively impacted nearly every farm in Florida and can drastically reduce the productivity of a tree within just two years. Today, citrus greening has caused Florida’s citrus industry to shrink by more than two-thirds and has caused over $8 billion in economic losses, with thousands of jobs lost. The letter asks the EPA to rapidly approve the use of Vismax in preventing citrus greening, so the industry may access this product before the start of the 2022 growing season this October.
“I’m pleased to join Rep. Lawson in leading this letter with my colleagues,” said Cammack. “As the lone Florida Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to ensuring that our domestic producers have access to products and materials that will increase productivity, generate economic growth, and create jobs across the Sunshine State. Without EPA approval of Vismax, the citrus industry will experience crippling losses at the hands of infected trees, which is why we need to make this safe and effective treatment readily available to our citrus producers.”
“It is critical that we provide Florida citrus growers with every possible resource to combat citrus greening,” said Lawson. “Vismax is a tool that can be effective in preventing further devastation to the state’s successful citrus industry. Approval of this resource must be accelerated to maintain our growers’ livelihood.”
Other signers included U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., Bill Posey, R-Fla. ,John Rutherford, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., Michael Waltz, R-Fla., Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla.
The letter is below.
Dear Mr. Smith,
As Members of the Florida Delegation, we are writing to urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expeditiously approve the use of Vismax in Florida citrus. Vismax is a patented biochemical pesticide containing a targeted peptide that helps trigger the tree’s natural immune system. With limited tools available to combat citrus greening, Vismax would serve as a welcome solution affording citrus growers in our state an opportunity to treat their Huanglongbing infected trees.
Since 2005, Florida citrus growers have been in the fight of their life against a disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening. HLB is a vascular disease vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). Today, citrus greening is on almost every farm in Florida, and can drastically reduce the productivity of a tree within just two years. HLB has caused Florida’s citrus industry to shrink by more than two-thirds and has caused over $8 billion in economic loss and tens of thousands of jobs lost.
An unnecessarily delayed approval time of Vismax could cause additional trees to be infected, worsening the spread of the disease, and adding to the over $400 million in annual losses Florida farmers experience due to HLB. Although massive research efforts have been underway over the last decade, Florida’s citrus industry desperately needs solutions now.
Therefore, if you find that this product is safe and effective, we believe the approval must be done rapidly so the industry can have access to Vismax before the start of the 2022 growing season in October. Adding Vismax to their toolbox could help slow the spread of the disease through an effective treatment program.
Thank you for your time and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
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