Several different agencies met in Fort Pierce, Florida last month to better coordinate efforts to address HLB. Representatives from the Citrus Research Board (CRB), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Florida’s Citrus Research and Development Foundation gathered to discuss how the groups can collectively work more efficiently in combating the impact of HLB.
“In terms of the framework of how we can work more together and collaboratively and communicate better with each other about what’s going on, I think there’s been some really good things discussed,” said CRB President Gary Schulz, who was in attendance at the meeting. “I think there’s a potential for us to be on a much more regular, communicative basis.”
The meeting in Florida came about after a recent National Academy of Sciences report suggested research could be better served by funding agencies taking more of a systems approach to address HLB. Schulz noted that Tom Buick, National Program Leader for the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, was integral in planning the meeting between the different agencies.
A group of approximately 25 representatives was on hand to discuss the different possibilities for more collaboration between the agencies. “We talked about collaborating on the priority process, that each of us will still retain our own local control on what are our priorities, but then we’ll stay connected with each other so that if a researcher in some part of the United States has a particular type of project, that we can refer them to that other agency,” said Schulz.
The agencies are on a course for better communication and a more collaborative spirit between the groups, but it will not come at the expense of the local growers that the agencies represent. “[The collaboration] does not impact what we’re trying to do for our growers back in our home regions, except for advancing to the solution of HLB,” Schulz noted.