Legislators Mull Practical & Financial Assistance To Citrus Farmers For Fruit Fly Losses

State legislators are pressing for way to assist citrus farmers who are seeing the profitability of the agricultural operations evaporate as a consequence of the Oriental fruit fly quarantine.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture earlier this year implemented quarantine measures in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Santa Clara counties to address the presence of the Oriental fruit fly. The oriental fruit fly, previously known by the scientific name, Dacus dorsalis and now referred to as Bactrocera dorsalis, is a species of tephritid fruit fly that was endemic to Southeast Asia. It is a major pest species, with a broad host range of cultivated and wild fruits.
In January, the California Department of Food and Agriculture imposed quarantine and initiated a fruit removal program locally in the target area centered in Redlands north and south of I-10, with a northern boundary of East Highland Ave, a western boundary at the intersection of Garden and Elizabeth streets, an eastern boundary of Alta Vista Drive and a southern boundary of Silver Leaf Court.
“If left unchecked,” the Department of Food and Agriculture said at that time, “the Oriental fruit fly could become permanently established and cause billions of dollars worth of losses annually, which would significantly impact California’s food supply,” according to the Department of Food and Agriculture.
The state’s action meant, essentially, that citrus growers would not be able to market any of the fruit they grow this year. No arrangements to reimbursement those farmers were made at the time.
In February, Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes in February introduced Assembly Bill 2827, calling for the state to formulate and put in place polices to provide for early detection of and programs to exterminate invasive species to protect California’s crops.
On March 1, state senators Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Josh Newman, Kelly Seyarto and Scott Wilk, together with Assemblymen Greg Wallis, Tom Lackey and Bill Essayli wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, California Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire, State Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Chairman Scott Wiener and Assembly Committee on the Budget Chairman Hess Gabriel request that the legislature and governor free up $45 million in emergency funding to assist citrus growers being hurt by the invasive fruit fly infestation.
The $45 million being sought is some $23 million more than the $22 million Newsom has already indicated he is willing to devote toward the problem in the 2024-25 budget.
“The infestation has led to restrictions on moving fruit from the quarantine areas.” according to the letter. “While we understand there will be catastrophic consequences for California’s economy if the outbreaks are not controlled, these restrictions are currently having a significant impact on commercial growers within the quarantined areas. The $45 million appropriation would be available in the form of grants to growers within the quarantine areas who have significant crop loss and are not eligible for crop insurance to cover their losses.”

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