As you know we have learned a great deal about pest eradication over the past five months. Farming has plenty of risks associated with it without having to deal with produce quarantines. Our med Fly quarantine goes on until the end of July this year. At the beginning of April we start weekly sprays of an organic bait material in the affected crops. This will mean that we can sell the affected crops as normal.
Over the past few weeks I have had members of the farm and the press contact me about the Light Brown Apple Moth that is a problem in the Bay Area, Monterey and Santa Cruz. A customer became quite angry with me at the market two weeks ago when I would not condemn the California department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). I decided to get a little education and spoke to the scientists involved in the Med Fly eradication project here in Dixon and a customer involved in the anti spraying group in San Leandro.
Today a reporter from the Bay Guardian called for the second time. I decided to speak with her, Sarah. I have not been sprayed nor I am in the proposed spray area. Many farmers are reluctant to speak for fear customers will stop buying their produce. I have great faith in Eatwell Farm customers, they have stuck with us through the Med Fly quarantine. I offer the following as how I see the situation at the present time.
Here's how it all seems to me...
1. These pests are most likely brought in to the country by members of the public smuggling infected fruit. There are other ways like imported produce, packages etc. There are reasons why you should not bring fruits and vegetables into California. Someone brought Med Fly infected mangoes back from Hawaii last Summer and it cost me $60,000 in lost sales and another $10,000 in anticipated expenses for this years crops. California's agriculture is vital for the State and your food supply. We all need to protect our food supply and most importantly the few small family farmers that are left farming like us.
2. CDFA and the USDA are bound by International trade agreements to act when they find potentially damaging pests. They must act to stop the spread and eradicate these pests. In the case of the Med Fly they got all the farmers together and explained to them what they were going to do. They informed the public also. We were all on the same page and so far I am happy with the way it is all going. Now with the Apple Moth there seems to have been some panic at the CDFA and a definite lack of communication with the general public. They have also sprayed an organic material that they had to get an off label emergency section 18 use permit for.
3. When I spray something as benign as seaweed on my crops I use a mask as I do not want to get the small droplets of material in my lungs. When CDFA spayed the general public with the organic material Checkmate without warning it appears to me to be something I described to the Bay Guardian reporter as a 'balls up'. Even if it is only a pheromone some people were always going to have a bad reaction to being caught in its spray.
4. CDFA assured me today that they have parasitic wasps in their labs from New Zealand and Australia that they are looking into for the possible biological control of this pest. They seem to have got the message that the public will not tolerate spray planes buzzing their houses. Furthermore they now understand they need to explain what they intend to do.
5. What you can do...
...Support you local farmer even if their farm was spayed, if you quit buying their produce you are punishing the farm for the poor judgment of the CDFA. Think about where you would get your food if the farmers goes out of business because of this.
...Let the CDFA know that they have to do their job better and let your state Senator and Representative know that they must keep the CDFA well funded so that they can be better prepared to control any future pest outbreaks with biological methods.
We all need to work together to maintain our food security. 'Remember Buy Fresh and Buy Local'. Join a CSA farm like ours, www.eatwell.com. To find a CSA near you go to www.localharvest.org
Please don't bring fruit and vegetables into California.