US (CA): Public comment sought on citrus quarantine proposals

The California citrus industry wants Asian citrus psyllid quarantine rule changes and is thus asking growers and nursery owners to comment on the proposals.

The last in a series of scoping meetings to discuss proposed changes to the ACP and Huanglongbing regulations under the state’s Food and Agriculture Code takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 24 in San Bernardino.

Citrus industry officials are encouraged to comment on the proposals through the formal public comment process. Public comment will also be accepted at the meeting in San Bernardino.

At a similar scoping meeting held in Tulare, citrus grower and nursery representatives heard what could become part of the new rules, which in short could be vastly different from what is in place today.

From a regulatory standpoint, Duane Schnabel, pest exclusion branch chief with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), says the state would first ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare a statewide ACP quarantine in California. This would immediately eliminate the county-based quarantines now in place.

“It would basically be a deregulation of California on the national level,” Schnabel said.

That needs to be done so the state could then establish regional quarantine restrictions – larger geographic zones – that would be governed by a set of rules not regulated by the USDA.

All this has been in the works since ACP finds spread north from the Los Angeles Basin and southern California desert region into the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and the Bay Area. The ACP is known to vector a deadly bacterial disease in citrus trees called Huanglongbing (HLB) or “Citrus Greening Disease.”

The disease has been found in at least 20 residential trees in the San Gabriel Valley near Los Angeles.

Proposals under the new plan vary somewhat for bulk citrus movement than for nursery stock.

Under the bulk citrus proposals, free movement of fruit would be permitted within a quarantine region but regulations would be put in place to prevent moving the ACP from one zone to another.

Movement of fruit outside of established quarantine regions would remain unregulated.

Counties currently not in an ACP quarantine when the new rule takes effect would be labeled “region not under quarantine.”


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