(Feb. 13) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Agriculture won a major battle in its fight against citrus canker Feb. 12 when the Florida Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s canker eradication law.

Under Florida law, if a citrus tree is infected with canker it must be destroyed, along with any other trees within a 1,900-square foot radius of the infected tree.

The legality and the science behind the law was challenged by a group of south Florida homeowners who filed suit against the state. The decision allows Florida to continue its eradication program immediately.

“This is very good news for citrus growers who have lost 2.1 million citrus trees due to the spread of this devastating disease,” said Andy LaVigne, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Mutual, the state’s largest growers association.

According to Florida officials, the canker outbreak began in 1995 when infected fruit from another country came into the state. Most of the outbreaks have been confined to southeast and southwest Florida.