When Government Gets It Right; Saving an Industry From Invasive Pest

Invasive species can severely threaten the agriculture industry globally.  In the U.S., the Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimates “that 50,000 non-native species have been introduced” throughout history. The potential economic impact of nonindigenous plant and animal species costs are estimated at $129 billion annually in the United States.

What is an Invasive Species?

european-grapevine-moth-2454

European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana).

An invasive species is an unknown, exotic and, oftentimes, injurious animal or plant that is introduced into an environment where it is not native. The introduction of invasive species has increased in the U.S. due to increasing volumes of international trade.

When an invasive species is detected it can have multiple costly impacts including but not limited to:

If you are a producer the introduction of an invasive species can cause significant losses in crop yields.  Quarantines may also be established and result in shipment restrictions and the loss of markets.  Invasive weed species can ruin pastures for grazing animals.

If you ship agricultural products domestically and/or internationally and your shipments are not in compliance with the importers regulatory requirements, the importer can hold up your shipments for days costing you thousands of dollars each day.

If you are a county or municipality the introduction of invasive species can alter your urban, suburban and rural landscapes.  The use of local funds to combat invasive species can place a significant burden on your already strained budget.

With so much at stake there is a proper role for the federal government.  And, recently, there is a successful example that showcases how government actions helped eradicate a destructive invasive pest in the U.S.

The European Grapevine Moth (EGVM) (Lobesia botrana (L. botrana)) is native to southern Italy.  According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), EGVM is a significant pest of berries and berry-like fruits in Europe, the Mediterranean, southern Russia, Japan, the Middle East, Near East, and northern and western Africa.

In September 2009, officials with the Office of the Napa County Agricultural

Vineyards in Tuscany, Chianti region, Italy.

Commissioner recognized significant damage and crop loss occurring in world renowned Oakville and Rutherford area vineyards of Napa Valley, California.  Specimens were submitted and positively identified as EGVM. This new detection of EGVM represented the first time the pest had been found both in the U.S. and in North America. Since EGVM begins destruction in early stages by larvae feeding on the grape flower clusters, surveys were immediately deployed.  The survey results showed that EGVM was present in several counties within the grape growing regions of central California. Collaboration began almost instantly involving international experts, APHIS, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), University of California Extension Service, and various County Agricultural Commissioner offices to detect, delimit, and eradicate EGVM.

The largest cost components for suppressing and eradicating EGVM for governmental agencies are chemical control measures, such as insecticides and mating disruptions using an EGVM pheromone, and the government-managed systematic trapping, detection, and monitoring programs to determine the presence and distribution of EGVM.  Initially about 40,000 traps were installed and monitored in 47 grape producing counties in California.  Costs associated with chemical treatments, and other mechanical and cultural controls, such as flower and fruit removal and outreach programs, are also incurred at the community and grower levels.  Other states besides California also began participating in the grape commodity survey.

The EGVM outbreak impacted international trade and interstate commerce.  Stone fruits were the first products to experience the impacts of EGVM.  Since their April to September harvesting season preceded that of other regulated products, Canada halted stone fruit imports from the quarantined area for approximately 45 days starting in May 2010.  This resulted in an estimated 250,000 to 350,000 boxes of stone fruits being diverted domestically. Industry and government representatives agree that, without the regulatory protocol, California growers could have lost the ability to export all EGVM regulated products.  Without the regulatory protocol to certify the safety of the products, the resulting loss of trade could have been significant, as high as 2.5 million boxes in Fresno County alone.  On September 1, 2010, Mexico removed its temporary import suspension on the EGVM regulated products, which had been imposed on the regulated counties.

 

In August 2016, APHIS declared EGVM eradicated from the State of California removing all areas under quarantine and restrictions on the movement of EGVM host material.  The EGVM

Napa, CA Oct 21, 2016. USDA Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine, Osama El Lissy honors Greg Clark, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner and Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner - retired for their leadership & cooperative efforts in eradicating EGVM.

Napa, CA Oct 21, 2016. USDA Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine, Osama El Lissy honors Greg Clark, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner and Dave Whitmer, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner – retired for their leadership & cooperative efforts in eradicating EGVM.

Program is transitioning to post-eradication surveillance and response plan. The total federal cost to eradicate EGVM over the period FY 2010-17 cost about $50 million, an average of $6.25 million annually.  The industry contribution, including in-kind, matched the federal contribution totaling $50 million over the same period.

Without question the EGVM eradication showcases how collaborative efforts of industry, local, state and federal governments and research institutions are successful.  It was a total investment by government and industry of $100 million over an eight-year period to protect the $5.7 billion grape and stone fruit crops in California.  That’s an unbelievable worthwhile investment and a substantial rate of return. Another great example of government getting it right.


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Tim Cansler
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