Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
March 21, 2007  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer and Others Introduce Legislation to Increase Funding for Pest Control  

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) along with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) today introduced the Pest Detection and Surveillance Act, legislation that would establish authority for USDA to enter into cooperative funding agreements with States to enhance pest detection and surveillance programs.

Boxer said, "It is critical that we give the California County Agriculture Commissioners, as well as agencies in other states, the tools and funding they need to prevent pests from destroying our nation's crops—our economy depends on it. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee to include this language as part of the Farm Bill."

Feinstein said, "This legislation would provide needed funding for efforts to prevent dangerous pests from destroying our agriculture. The best way to prevent our farmlands and forests from falling victim to pests, is to identify and destroy the pests before they've entered the country or as soon as possible thereafter.

"California farmers have fought long and hard against serious agricultural pests like the glassy-winged sharpshooter, the Asian long-horned beetle, and the Mediterranean fruit fly. These infestations cost California farmers about $3 billion a year. We need to do all we can to stop the damage."

"Invasive species are an enormous problem in Michigan and throughout the U.S., and early detection and surveillance programs will help to keep this problem from growing even larger," said Levin. "I am hopeful that the Early Pest Detection and Surveillance Act will provide states some relief from invasive species such as the emerald ash borer."

The bill will establish the authority for USDA to enter into cooperative funding agreements with States to enhance their pest detection and surveillance programs. State and local agriculture and pest detection authorities will be able to use cooperative grant funding to increase inspections at domestic points of entry, implement pest trapping systems, and create pest eradication and prevention programs, among many other pest detection and surveillance initiatives.

The bill is modeled after the USDA/State Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey program, which helps to detect pests before they can become established. Early pest detection efforts are supported by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), United Fresh, and the American Farm Bureau.

Invasive pest species have significantly impacted the health of many crops in California. In particular, the glassy-winged sharpshooter has infested thousands of acres of grapes, along with alfalfa, oleander, and citrus plants.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) has introduced companion legislation in the House.