(Feb. 26, 11:47 a.m.) The Florida Department of Citrus has begun the process of funding $10.8 million toward citrus disease research.

The department, on behalf of citrus growers, signed 37 contracts Feb. 24, initiating the process that will fund research through the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, according to a news release. The research focuses on solutions to citrus greening, citrus canker and other diseases that threaten the future of the industry.

“These contracts close the loop on the Florida Citrus Commission’s long-held commitment to provide necessary citrus disease research funding in a timely and accountable manner,” Ken Keck, department executive director, said in the release. “Over the past year, we’ve worked closely with the entire citrus industry to address this urgent need.”

The National Academy of Sciences and Florida Citrus Production Research Advisory Council recommended 83 research proposals for funding after a review of more than 200. FDOC funds 70 of the projects, while the remaining 13 contracts, representing $2.8 million, will be funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

“The Florida scientific community includes preeminent citrus experts, and we are pleased that 54% of the research dollars will remain in the state to fund 37 projects at the University of Florida,” Bob Norberg, Florida Department of Citrus deputy executive director, research and operations, said in the release. “We believe that Florida researchers prossess the capabilities to identify solutions to greening.”

To ensure accountability, scientists will be required to provide quarterly progress reports at www.FCPRAC.com. The first of those reports should be available in June, according to the release.

“Today’s distribution of research dollars is an important milestone to efficiently and effectively identify actionable steps to control and eliminate greening,” Keck said in the release. “Through this process, we will help to preserve the economic viability of the Florida citrus industry.”