USDA officers investigate "illegally moved" citrus in Ocilla - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

USDA officers investigate "illegally moved" citrus in Ocilla

By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

OCILLA, GA (WALB) –Federal Agriculture officials spent hours outside a South Georgia warehouse today inspecting citrus trees, that could be infested with a disease that's deadly to citrus trees.

The inspectors tell us a thousand plants from may have been moved from Florida illegally.

The USDA is serious about the illegal movement of trees and fruit since infested trees can devastate thousands of acres of crops.

USDA officials say Citrus Greening is one of the most serious citrus plant diseases in the world and once a tree is infected there is no cure.

So far, trees have been infected in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina and right now the entire states of Florida and Georgia are under Quarantine.

That means you cant move citrus trees in or out of those states.

But a citrus dealer in Irwin County is under investigation for just that"illegally moving as many as 1,000 citrus plants from Florida."

Today officers with the United States Department of Agriculture showed up at an old warehouse off LAX highway between the Farm Bureau and Irwin County Elementary School.

In the back of the warehouse, dozens of citrus trees.

Officers with the Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance spent hours out in the hot sun, marking off some plants with yellow tape and setting them aside into groups.

USDA officials say there is no word yet on if any of these plants are infected and how big of an investigation this will be.

They say its also too early to talk about penalty because that will depend on several factors.

According to the USDA, Citrus Greening has destroyed millions of acres of citrus around the world.

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