Published: Jul 18, 2012 4:36 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A U.S. Senate panel has approved legislation that would set up a trust fund to fight greening and other citrus diseases that have cost Florida billions.
The Senate Finance Commission cleared the measure sponsored by Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
A University of Florida study released earlier this year said citrus greening has cost the state's industry about $3.6 billion and 6,611 jobs since 2006.
Nelson said the next step will be to get it through the full Senate.
The trust fund would provide money mainly for research and development. It would be financed by tariffs on citrus imports that now go into the general treasury.
Greening has hit crops in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, California and Texas.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)