Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
July 12, 2011

Battling a Crop Killer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide $11 million for scientific research to battle citrus greening.

Senator Nelson has been urging the agency to act since last fall and the research funds come at an especially auspicious time since Florida Governor Rick Scott just last month vetoed $2 million that state lawmakers had approved for citrus greening research.

The USDA will make most of the money available through a competitive grants program. It also will seek to create a citrus disease research and development advisory committee to include citrus producers and scientists. Calling citrus a part of “Florida’s tradition, heritage, and livelihood,” Nelson pledged to try and secure an additional $30 million annually to help fight these destructive diseases in the future.

Additionally, Senator Nelson introduced the Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund Act (S.1295), a bill to establish a Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund for seven years, deriving from duties on imported citrus and citrus products. The trust fund would act as a dedicated source of funding for scientific research aimed at addressing domestic and invasive pests, diseases, and other challenges to the U.S. citrus industry. The bill would also help disseminate research findings to the citrus industry.

Citrus research receives fragmented and incongruent support through annual appropriations, which slows the progress of research aimed at curing diseases such as “greening,” which threatens to wipe out the entire stock of citrus trees in the United States.

Supporting an Export-Driven Economy

For more information
Lynn Bannister: Director of Outreach
111 North Adams St
Tallahassee, FL  32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)

Last week, Senator Nelson voted out of the Senate Finance Committee the pending free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea.

Before the bill was voted on, Senator Nelson got a commitment from the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative to help fishermen and shrimpers collect the data needed to receive Trade Adjustment Assistance and to meet with officials in China and Japan to open those markets to U.S. beef exports.

 Under fast-track rules established through the Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002, the President can submit a bill to implement a free trade agreement and the bill must be given an up or down vote in both chambers of Congress within 90 days without amendments.

The Senate Finance Committee held a symbolic mark-up of the bill to recommend any changes to the free trade agreements before the President formally submits the implementing bills. The pending free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea provide an opportunity for American businesses to expand sales into foreign markets without the hindrance of discriminatory trade barriers. Furthermore, the Administration has taken extra steps, above and beyond the negotiated deals, to obtain specific commitments on important issues, such as labor protections in Columbia.

Honoring U.S. Navy SEALS

Senator Nelson cosponsored legislation, S. 1235, to recognize the memorial at the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, as the official national memorial of Navy SEALS.

The bill honors the sacrifice of the SEALS and their predecessors, the Navy Frogmen of World War II.

Fort Pierce, Florida is recognized as the birthplace of the Navy Frogmen where thousands of brave volunteers were trained as members of Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Teams during World War II and is now home to the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum.

DoD Schools in Disrepair

 Senator Nelson sent a letter to Dr. Clifford Stanley, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel, regarding the conditions at DoD schools and public schools on military bases.

Reports to Congress from 2009 cited neglect of schools attended by military children and recent media reports noted that conditions have not improved.

Senator Nelson requested an immediate update of progress to make improve conditions at DoD schools.

Senator Nelson Refutes BP’s Claims that the Gulf Economy Has Recovered

Senator Nelson sent a letter to Ken Feinberg, the attorney in charge of administering BP payments to Gulf victims of the Deepwater Horizon spill, in response to BP’s recent submission of a 28-page request for limits on payments for future losses.

BP’s argument is that the Gulf coast economy has sufficiently recovered from the spill and that there is no evidence of long term consequences.

 Senator Nelson strongly objected to BP’s claim, saying, “BP doesn’t need to be protected from the citizenry. It’s the other way around.” He also pointed out that Alaska is still seeing the damage from the Exxon-Valdez oil spill 22 years ago.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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