Citrus packinghouses key in psyllid fight

04/04/2014 10:35:00 AM
Terry Orr and Scott Carlisle

Terry Orr, Exeter-Ivanhoe Citrus AssociationTerry Orr, Exeter-Ivanhoe Citrus AssociationThe $2 billion California citrus industry is facing its biggest threat yet — the Asian citrus psyllid — and if we want to overcome it, we all need to work together.

At Booth Ranches and the Exeter-Ivanhoe Citrus Association, we take our role very seriously, and we’re calling on other packinghouses and industry members to continue do their part to save California citrus.

While growers and farm labor contractors play a critical role in detecting and preventing the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, packinghouses play an equally important role in enforcing best practices for controlling this pest.

The Asian citrus psyllid — and the incurable and fatal plant disease it can spread, known as huanglongbing or citrus greening disease — put our state’s commercial citrus industry and the more than 20,000 jobs it supports at risk.

Scott Carlisle, Booth Ranches LLCScott Carlisle, Booth Ranches LLCIn Florida, the disease has caused the loss of more than 8,000 jobs, and the industry and workers it supports are struggling. We do not want to face the same fate here.

We recommend the packinghouse best practices outlined below be integrated with regular training procedures. Contractors and workers should be trained and retrained on how to control the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid, and be held accountable.

This should be done not just within quarantine zones, but at all packinghouses throughout the state. Our livelihood literally depends on fast and diligent action.

We recognize the extraordinary efforts of our industry to come together and take responsibility within individual operations. But continued vigilance is needed.

  •  Cooperate. Stay in compliance with all California Department of Food and Agriculture, county and federal regulations, including quarantine boundaries, load tarping and psyllid-free declaration reporting.

  •  Know who you hire. Employ trusted farm labor contractors, transporters and other workers who adhere to regulations and best practices.

  •  Make employees accountable. Require farm labor contractors to follow best management practices for controlling the spread of the pest. The Citrus Pest Disease and Prevention Program, with packinghouses in the state, developed a letter of agreement outlining best practices. Require contractors to sign this agreement and hold them accountable. It’s available at www.citrusinsider.org.


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