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Thousands of Florida residents will receive $42 million for citrus trees destroyed 16 years ago

Sixteen years after their lawsuit began, about 18 farmers in Florida will receive more than $000 million from the state to destroy citrus trees in the fight against a harmful disease. Writes about it Yahoo!.

Photo: Shutterstock

Farmers in Orange County will receive about $700 for each healthy tree destroyed as part of a state court ruling last month. A 2014 court ruling placed the cost of each healthy tree at $344, but fees and interest over the years have doubled the cost per tree.

According to the lawsuit, more than 60 healthy, uninfected trees were destroyed in Orange County between 000 and 2002 as part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Human Services' efforts to eradicate citrus canker.

While this citrus disease is harmless to humans, it can cause premature leaf and fruit drop and unsightly lesions.

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Bacterial cells are shed from the damage, according to the USDA, and can be spread to other trees by wind, rain, or contaminated equipment.

The department argued that the trees are a public inconvenience and have no value that deserves compensation. As part of the program, healthy trees that were within 1900 feet (580 meters) of an infected tree were destroyed to stop the spread of the disease.

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As compensation, the state offered $2000 Walmart gift cards to Florida farmers in the 100s for their first tree destroyed, and $55 for each additional one. In cases where they resisted, the authorities threatened to arrest them or obtained a warrant to break into private property and destroy trees.

The Florida Legislature approved payments to Orange County farmers last year. A designated person will distribute checks and track down farmers whose addresses are no longer up to date.

Tens of thousands of farmers in Broward, Lee, and Palm Beach counties won class-action lawsuits against the state over the destroyed trees, and compensation varied by county. The Miami-Dade County case is still pending.

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