Florida’s citrus industry is closer to receiving funding to combat citrus greening.

Florida pursues funding for citrusThe state legislature has approved $9.5 million in research to fight huanglongbing, also known as HLB and citrus greening, which is devastating the Sunshine State’s citrus industry.

Part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ 2013-14 budget, the funding includes $8 million for HLB research, according to a news release.

Citrus nursery certification, citrus germplasm facility and citrus pest management will also each receive $500,000 in incremental funding, according to the release.

“Of course, Commissioner Adam Putnam has done yeoman’s work to help our industry battle HLB,” Michael Sparks, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, said in the release. “He knows we are in the fight of our life and this state investment is critical to get some short-term research answers.”

The Lakeland-based citrus group also commended the state’s lawmakers for showing their commitment to one of the state’s most important signature industries, Sparks said in the release.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott must approve the budget.

A vascular disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, HLB is found in all of Florida’s 32 citrus-producing counties and can kill a tree in two years.