U.S. Farm Bill funds $5.4 million to battle invasive species in Florida, research non-native pests

Money will help battle snails, beetles and pests

SUBURBAN BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - They are creep, crawly and do not belong in Florida.

Invasive species cost residents a half a billion dollars a year but now the federal government is stepping in to fork out millions to help fight the growing pest problem.

Farmers like Nancy Roe, who farms for Green Cay Produce in Suburban Boynton Beach, wage the battle on invasive species around the clock.

"Everything is so global now that shipments come in and it just takes one or two of an insect," said Roe.

Invasive species like the Giant African Land Snail and the Ambrosia Beetle are just two bugs on the growing list of non-native species thriving in the Sunshine State.

The more critters who invade the state, the more costly it becomes for both farmers and consumers.

"Our costs are higher and that has to be passed on to somebody at some point," said Roe.
    
But now the federal government is stepping in the try and combat the issue.

The government allotted $5.4 million in the 2014 Farm Bill to help fight the costly pests.
    
"It's probably not enough, but I'm glad to have it. We can't be greedy," said Roe.

The money will fund programs to eradicate Giant African Land Snails, protect avocado plants from the Laurel Wilt and will also beef up dog inspection of incoming travelers. The money will also help research citrus greening and honeybee pests.

The Florida Department of Agriculture said in a statement the funds will, "help ensure Florida's famed agriculture industry can continue for generations."

Roe said the funds are a good start but much more money and research is needed just to start competing in the fight against invasive species.

"We'll never win it. We'll never win it completely because it's biology and it's a constant battle," said Roe.

The state estimates the agriculture industry is worth $108 billion dollars.


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