Family farmers urge continued fight against invasive moth
» March 12, 2008 «
Farm Bureau: Agencies must address concerns of trading partners, farmers and residents
With invasive pests posing an increasing threat to California's natural landscape and economy, family farmers today urged that government agencies continue to press for eradication of the light brown apple moth. The invading pest has infested nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Coast. It threatens native plants, many garden plants and a wide variety of crops.
Two of California's top trading partners, Canada and Mexico, have each imposed new restrictions on farms from infested counties. Many farmers in the affected counties sell to both local and international markets. The restrictions may make it practically impossible for farmers to sell their fruits, vegetables, cut flowers and nursery plants to customers in the two nations.
"Farmers tend to see the impact of invading pests first, but the light brown apple moth will also hurt home gardens and our natural environment," California Farm Bureau Federation President Doug Mosebar said. "Other places don't want the moth, and they'll clamp down on our farmers to make sure that it doesn't move. The trading restrictions pose a particular burden for organic farmers and for small-scale farms and nurseries that sell products in Canada and Mexico."
Mosebar said federal and state government agencies must convince trading partners that they intend to eradicate the light brown apple moth. At the same time, he said, they must show residents and elected officials that the moth can be eradicated safely and effectively.
"There's a lot of fear and distrust among people living in areas where treatments against the moth are scheduled," Mosebar said. "We need to do a better job of showing people how invading pests and diseases harm everyone who cares about the California landscape. We must address people's fears openly and honestly as we confront the environmental and economic risks from invading pests."
The additional restrictions from Canada and Mexico affect shipments to two of the top foreign customers for California farm products. Canada is the No. 2 foreign market for California farms and ranches, purchasing almost $1.9 billion in products annually. The two leading farm exports to Canada, lettuce and strawberries, are grown primarily in counties now affected by light brown apple moth quarantines. Mexico purchases more than $560 million in California farm products each year. Strawberries, nursery crops and lettuce are among the top 10 products that Mexican buyers purchase from California.
The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect farms and ranches on behalf of 92,000 members statewide.
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