Medfly quarantine set for northern Central Valley agriculture
A fruit fly infestation has led to state officials imposing a 114-square-mile quarantine zone around the Northern California city of Dixon, hitting farmers with new restrictions on the transportation and selling of their crops.
Issued Tuesday, the California Department of Food and Agriculture quarantine came after the discovery of a 12th Mediterranean fruit fly on Monday and larvae last week.
The fly is particularly worrisome for farmers in the heavily agricultural Central Valley region as it can lay its eggs in about 260 different fruits, nuts and vegetables. The larvae consume the fruit before flying away to infest other crops.
Growers in the area, about 25 miles north of Sacramento, have been forced to let crops rot on the vine as the quarantine rules include tarping products, allowing less cargo per load, and properly disposing of any remnants of the goods.
Under pressure from the powerful agriculture lobby, state and federal agriculture officials last week began signing agreements to allow some growers hit by the quarantine to sell their product under certain restrictions.
Although officials have given a nine to 12 month timeframe for the quarantine, the length could be extended every time a new Medfly is found.
In an effort to deal with the potentially disastrous infestation, officials asked residents across the area to pick and bag all fruits, nuts and vegetables growing on their private property. Officials are also planning for a second release of 1.5 million sterile Mediterranean fruit flies in an attempt to eradicate the pest.