The Research Triangle, N.C.-based Bayer is pledging to contribute $200,000 to industry efforts to find a cure for citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing or HLB.
Part of a three-year program, Bayer awarded the grant to Florida Citrus Research and Development Foundation Inc., Lake Alfred, to be administered through Maitland-based Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s Florida Specialty Crop Foundation.
In the first year of the grant, Bayer is directing money to support existing research on HLB and the Asian citrus psyllid, the insect which spreads the disease.
During the other years, Bayer and its partners plan to work with the industry to determine how the funding will be spent, according to Bayer officials.
“The sales reps working for Bayer in Florida are a part of the community and are partners in the citrus industry,” said Rob Schrick, a Bayer horticulture business lead. “Their customers are also their friends. They understand what’s going on.
“If we don’t focus on this and find a cure, we won’t have a business to worry about,” he said. “That strikes home. That’s the reason we’re here tonight.”
Bayer released news of the grant Sept. 23, during FFVA’s annual convention.
“Bayer is dedicated to providing innovative solutions for the food chain,” Sonia Tighe, the foundation’s executive director, said in a news release. “We are honored that Bayer continues to partner with our foundation to meet the needs of growers and the citrus industry.”
To date, greening has caused an estimated $4.5 billion in losses to Florida’s citrus crops.