California Legislature focuses on invaders

SACRAMENTO
January 11, 2012 9:00pm
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•  Sets committee to examine problems of invasive species

•  ‘We must find ways to best allocate our limited resources’


The California Legislature is sharpening its focus on the problem of invasive species and their threats to Central Valley crops.

A new Subcommittee on Invasive Species has been established with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, as its head.

“In creating a subcommittee specifically focused on the threat of invasive species, we will be able to shine a light on the size of this problem in California. Invasive pests cost our economy $3 billion every year and affect every county in the state,” says Mr. Cannella. “We must find ways to best allocate our limited resources, especially during these tough economic times, to ensure we are fighting the encroachment of invasive species whether it be at our borders, in our waterways, or in our backyards.”

The creation of the subcommittee follows an Agriculture Committee hearing called by Mr. Cannella in December 2011 on the problems invasive pests pose for California.

Recently, much of Florida’s citrus crop was destroyed by the Asian citrus psyllid, which spreads Huanglongbing, the most devastating disease of citrus in the world. The pest was first discovered in California in 2008; in 2010, quarantines were in effect in parts of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

In October 2011, officials discovered five live Khapra beetle larvae and two dead adults in shipments stopped at the Los Angeles International Airport and at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, respectively. The Khapra beetle destroys seeds and grains, including rice, which is one of California’s top agricultural commodities.

“Not only do these invasive species pose threats to our $37 billion agriculture industry, but they have the ability to destroy fragile environmental ecosystems,” says Mr. Cannella. “The subcommittee will be committed to leveraging the capabilities of local and federal partners to make sure that the limited funds that are provided by the state are being spent in the best way possible.”

Sens. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, will also serve as members of the subcommittee.


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