Florida faces a $ 1.2 million verdict to kill citrus trees

Orlando, Florida (AP) —Commercial nursery owners have given the Florida Department of Agriculture the latest ruling against state agencies that they destroyed citrus trees in the 2000s in an attempt to thwart costly dissemination. Won a $ 1.2 million decision. Tree disease.

Orlando’s jury ruled last week that state agencies destroyed more than 160,000 citrus plants to stop citrus greening, and Gary Mahon deserves $ 1.2 million as compensation for fair market value. did. Mahon’s company, Poker’s Lake Gem Citrus Nursery, grows fruit trees in Zellwood, Florida.

The Department of Agriculture claimed that Mahon was not worthy of compensation because he was able to avoid the loss by moving the citrus plants to the greenhouse. Mahon’s lawyer disputed that interpretation of the law.

In 2008, Florida legislators passed a law requiring citrus growers to sell or destroy plants that are not grown in greenhouses to protect the state’s citrus industry from citrus greening. Citrus greening is one of the greatest threats to the US citrus industry, as infected trees produce green, malformed and bitter fruits. Although harmless to humans, the disease can eventually kill infected trees.

“The Florida Parliament and the Department of Agriculture had good implications for passing and enforcing the law, but it had a devastating effect on citrus nursery producers,” said Mahon’s lawyer Alexander Krem. “. “Our clients fought for years to get the justice of the thousands of plants he was forced to destroy, and we are excited that he can be compensated and continue his life. doing.”

The Ministry of Agriculture did not immediately respond to email inquiries on Wednesday.

Over the last two decades, Florida’s citrus industry has been exposed to the threat of greening and another disease called citrus ulcers. Citrus ulcers can prematurely shed leaves and fruits of citrus trees, creating unattractive lesions in the fruits. According to the USDA, lesions leak bacterial cells that can spread to other trees by wind, rain, or contaminated equipment.

With both illnesses, state agricultural workers destroyed citrus trees to stop their devastating spread.

Earlier this year, about 18,000 homeowners in Orlando’s hometown of Orange County won a $ 42 million ruling against the state for destroying citrus trees.

Tens of thousands of homeowners in Broward, Lee, and Palm Beach counties have also won class action proceedings against the state over destroyed trees, and compensation varies from county to county. The proceedings in Miami-Dade County are still pending.

Florida faces a $ 1.2 million verdict to kill citrus trees

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