State citrus industry fights pest despite loss of federal funds

State citrus industry fights pest despite loss of federal funds »Play Video
The Asian citrus psyllid is seen in this undated University of Florida photo provided by the University of California, Davis. (AP Photo/University of Florida, Michael Rogers, File)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The federal shutdown hasn’t kept California’s citrus industry from continuing the fight against a potentially devastating fruit pest. A large sum of money has been raised to ensure the state’s citrus produce remains healthy.
Since the government shut down on Tuesday, the state's agriculture department has raised more than $100,000 for an emergency fund. That money was raised to ensure the state's citrus trees are protected against the Asian citrus psyllid.
The fund was raised as a precaution, and for now, the government shutdown has not stopped the pest's regulation in Kern County.
"We are gonna continue to trap the phyllid regardless. So the government shutdown is not really going to affect our day-to--day operations," said Glenn Fankhauser with Kern County Agriculture.
Steve Lyle with the California Department of Food and Agriculture said the emergency fund was raised by a special committee (The California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee) to combat money that is normally federally funded.
"The federal government contributes a significant amount of money to the program and with the shutdown now in play those moneys are not available to us,” said Lyle.
Officials say the bug carries a disease capable of killing trees and producing inedible fruit. And it isn’t only farmers who may be impacted if this pest isn’t regulated because of lost funds.
"While this is to a certain degree about commercial citrus, it's not just about commercial citrus, it's also about the tree that you may have in your front or back yard,” said Lyle.
An infected tree was found in Wasco last month and as a result a large quarantine zone was set up in the area to protect the citrus industry. There is no cure if a tree catches the bug.