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Congressional Agricultural Hearing On Invasive Species At UF/IFAS Citrus Research And Education Center In Lake Alfred Jan. 31

Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281

Mike Martin (352) 392-1971
Harold Browning (863) 956-1151
Randall Stocker (352) 392-9613
Joseph DiPietro (352) 392-4700 ext 5000

LAKE ALFRED—U.S. Rep. Charles Canady, R-Fla., has announced that the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture will hold a field hearing at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred on Jan. 31 at 10:00 a.m. to review the harmful effects of invasive species on agriculture.

The hearing, hosted by the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) at the research center’s Ben Hill Griffin Hall, will be chaired by Subcommittee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif. The news media and public are invited to attend.

Among those scheduled to testify is Harold Browning, director of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, who will discuss the threat posed by citrus canker, citrus root weevil (Diaprepes) and other serious problems affecting plants and animals in Florida.

Also present for the hearings will be Randall Stocker, director of the UF’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, and Joseph DiPietro, dean of the UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Stocker, a national expert on invasive species, was recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to a national advisory council on invasive species, which include a wide range of Florida plant pests such as old world climbing fern, melaleuca, tropical soda apple and Brazilian pepper. DiPietro is an expert on problems such as heartwater, a disease transmitted by the tropical bont tick and considered the most serious threat to the nation’s cattle industry.

Mike Martin, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources, said the hearing provides an excellent opportunity to examine the increasing threat that invasive pests and diseases pose to Florida agriculture and consumers. He said the state and nation face difficult challenges in preventing and controlling pests and diseases which cost Florida agriculture millions of dollars each year.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and private industry also are scheduled to testify before the congressional panel. H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act, legislation that Canady introduced to give USDA greater enforcement tools to guard against invasive species, will be reviewed at the hearing.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting UF/IFAS and Congressman Canady’s office at (202) 225-1252.