“Florida citrus is in freefall,” a contributor to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote in 2020. “This is a catastrophe for the state, and a public health and homeland security issue for the nation.”
A disease called citrus greening, or HLB after its Chinese name huang long bing, has been a plague sweeping through Florida citrus groves. The US Department of Agriculture says citrus greening/HLB “is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world.”
“Once a tree is infected, there is no cure,” USDA says.
In twenty years, Florida citrus production has fallen 86 percent.
This crisis could have been solved several years ago, were it not for the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), set up to find a way to destroy the HLB bacteria and save Florida citrus groves.
CRDF has failed. So far it has spent about $180,000,000 in taxpayer and industry money.
Rick Dantzler, who runs CRDF, denies that he’s funding what he calls the “Research-Industrial Complex.” But he’s been pouring the money into mega-agribusiness and foreign multinationals.
He’s been feeding an army of academics who seem more interested in obscure scholarly research to get themselves published in academic journals than they do about ending citrus greening.
Their careers depend on more money for endless research from the taxpayers and industry – Dantzler’s Research-Industrial Complex.
Since CRDF was founded in 2009, more than 100,000 acres of Florida’s citrus groves have perished. More than 5,500 of Florida’s citrus growers have shut down.
So Florida citrus continues to die off, with CRDF delays allowing the HLB bacteria to spread to 13 American states and territories. Filling the gap: Cheap citrus fruit from South American cartels.