USA - What California citrus growers may need to recover from a record year for fruit fly

18.04.2024 116 views

Lawmakers in California are pushing for relief for citrus growers affected by Oriental fruit fly quarantines imposed in different parts of the state. 

Redlands Daily Facts reports that Sen. Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, R-Yucaipa, joined other members of the state legislature in writing a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, requesting $45 million in emergency funding for citrus growers grappling with an invasive fruit fly that has heavily impacted distribution and sales.

“Local growers within quarantined areas … are suffering significant losses due to the recent exotic fruit fly infestation,” Bogh said in a news release.

Gov. Newsom has previously proposed a $22 million plan for 2024-25 to address the issue. 

In September, the California Department of Food and Agriculture established a quarantine in Redlands and neighboring communities to try to control the spread of the Oriental fruit fly. In February, CDFA officials ordered fruit stripped from some trees in Redlands to prevent infestation.

Under the proposal by Bogh and other lawmakers, the $45 million in relief funding would assist commercial citrus and other growers across the Inland Empire who are experiencing economic hardship from the quarantine.

Fruit flies can cause extensive damage to crops. Each specimen can lay eggs under the skin of the produce, where larvae then develop. Maggots then hatch and tunnel through the pulp, turning it into a rotten mass.

Current California counties under quarantine are Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Riverside. 

“Providing financial assistance to struggling growers will encourage them to comply with quarantine standards, which is necessary to prevent the spread of these pests,” Bogh said. “It’s important we take such measures to keep California’s agricultural sector competitive and protect it from such threats.”

The state is experiencing the highest level of fruit fly infestations in its recorded history, officials say. There have been more than 900 fruit fly detections in 15 counties as of early 2024, a significant increase from the seven flies found in a typical year.

As proposed by lawmakers, 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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