Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced the availability of $74.5 million in emergency funding to continue efforts in California to stop the spread of the light brown apple moth.
"USDA is pleased to support the State of California's vital efforts in protecting its resources as well as the rest of the nation's agricultural and natural landscape from this destructive pest," said Conner. "Because of the intensive pest control efforts in 2007, the light brown apple moth has been contained in the initial quarantine area which has resulted in lifting control quarantine restrictions in two of the 12 infected California counties."
The light brown apple moth was first confirmed in Alameda County, Calif. on March 22, 2007 and soon after was identified in 11 other counties. Since the initial detection, USDA has been working cooperatively with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to conduct surveillance, trapping and treatment. In August 2007, USDA provided more than $15 million in emergency funding for eradication efforts. This latest funding will be used to continue and expand those activities in 2008.
USDA also will initiate a 50-state national detection survey to verify that light brown apple moth is not present anywhere else in the continental United States. Nursery stock, which is a major pathway for the spread of this pest, will be a target of the survey. Other priority areas for the survey include orchards and urbanized areas with ornamental plantings that are attractive to the light brown apple moth.
The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and also is found in New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom. This pest is of particular concern because it threatens crops as well as plants and trees, such as California's prized cypress and redwoods and many other varieties commonly found in urban and suburban landscaping, public parks and the natural environment. The list of agricultural crops that could be damaged by this pest includes grapes, citrus, stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, apricots) and many others. The complete "host list" contains well over 2,000 plant species, including several fruits and vegetables. For additional information about the light brown apple moth, go to www.aphis.usda.gov.