The Florida citrus industry is expected to produce nearly 40 billion pounds of fresh fruit this season, a record that could propel the state to become the biggest in the nation.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made the historic announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will establish the Citrus Diagnostic Center in Citrus County, in a move expected to save millions of dollars in food costs for Florida consumers.
The move comes as the state struggles with an unprecedented outbreak of salmonella in fresh produce.
“We’re excited to announce the opening of the Citrus Diagnostic Lab in Citruss County, Florida,” Trump said in a statement.
“This is the first time that the USDA has opened a Citrus Lab in Florida and it will help ensure that Florida’s citrus growers are not left out in the cold when it comes to the challenges facing the state.”
The USDA is expected start work on the facility this year.
The Citrus diagnostic lab will be the first facility for the U,S.
government to offer a fully automated and fully trained, state-of-the-art facility for citrus growers in the United States.
The facility will offer growers access to tools and techniques to reduce the need for costly, costly testing and control practices, according to the announcement.
The USDA also will help local citrus growers through education and training programs, including through training sessions for new staff.
“Citrus is a valuable commodity and a staple in our state, and the citrus industry has proven to be a vital part of our economy,” Trump added.
“The Citrus Datacenter will provide vital data that will help our growers maximize their harvest and prepare the state for the upcoming season.”
The facility is expected cost $50 million and will be located in the Citris County Fairgrounds, a shopping center in Citruxton.
The state is also partnering with the Department of Homeland Security to build a security fence to protect the facility, the Associated Press reported.
The Florida Citrus Commission, a group of local citrus and citrus growers, has been in negotiations with the USDA to establish a joint-venture with the federal government to establish the lab.
“Our growers are looking forward to the Citrs lab opening, but we’re also very proud of the hard work of the USDA and the Department and hope that the public will support the efforts of the agency and its partners in making this a success,” Citrus Commissioner Ron Williams said in the announcement, according the AP.