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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The House and Senate have a slight budget gap dealing with the state’s fight against Giant African Land Snails, but a sizable chasm is ahead in funding to slow a disease infecting Florida’s orange crop.
The budget proposals came as Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, on Thursday, announced that Florida is in line to receive $7.3 million for agriculture pest eradication and disease control from the federal government.
The Senate’s budget proposal for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, released Thursday, includes $2.3 million for the snail eradication program, about $25,000 more than the House pitched on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Senate proposal offers $8 million for the state’s response to the disease citrus greening. The House has proposed $17.9 million for the citrus disease effort, of which $8 million would go just for citrus research. Another $5.75 million would go to citrus marketing.
Putnam has asked state lawmakers for $18 million to fight diseases impacting the citrus industry. The money would also be used to grow clean citrus stock and plant new trees in areas where diseased trees have been removed.
The east African snail, of which more than 140,000 have been eliminated in Southeast Florida over the past few years, poses threats to parts of the agriculture industry and human health.
The Department of Agriculture said the snails, which can grow to 8 inches in length, eat at least 500 different types of plants and consume plaster and stucco off buildings. Also, they can carry a parasite that causes a form of meningitis in humans.
“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”