One of the hardest hit programs due to waning dollars was ADA state border inspection stations in San Simon, Yuma, Parker, and Blythe.

Inspectors check shipments for pests and diseases plus contraband, and quiz passengers. Since many of these shipments are headed to California, the Arizona inspections help prevent problems from entering the State of California.

When the ADA was facing initial inspection station closings, (then) California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura provided $350,000 to help fund inspectors at the San Simon station on Arizona’s eastern border on Interstate 10.

Butler speaks fondly of Secretary Kawamura and their close working relationship over the years. Kawamura stepped down from the post several years ago and was succeeded by Karen Ross.

Butler is proud of the ADA’s fight against the Asian citrus psyllid, the top pest facing the western citrus industry. The psyllid is the primary vector for the disease Huanglongbing (HLB) which has killed every tree infected with the disease worldwide.

Arizona and California have the insect. Arizona has no confirmed HLB finds. California had a single HLB confirmation in the Los Angeles area several years ago yet none since.

Another key ADA accomplishment, Butler says, is the elimination of a glassy winged sharpshooter infestation in residential citrus in Cochise County about five years ago. The infestation threatened the state's young wine grape industry.

Butler asked Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano for emergency funding to fight the pest which was approved. The ADA launched a trapping and a door-to-door insecticidal spray programs. The sharpshooter infestation was snuffed out.

Turning to the ADA and its role as “guardians for consumers and their food supply,” Butler is disheartened that consumers are largely unaware of the department’s role and importance. The lack of consumer understanding remains a problem across agriculture.

Butler said, “A customer can go to a restaurant and be unhappy if it takes 15 minutes to receive their meal. They don’t understand that it took two years to get the steak from the ranch to the kitchen.”

With Butler’s retirement, the agency’s Associate Director Jack Peterson is the interim director while a search is underway for a permanent director.

Moving forward, Butler says agency funding is the ADA’s greatest challenge. That said, he offered praise for the hard work and dedication of ADA employees.

“ADA is here to serve the people of Arizona. I’m pleased to say they do a pretty darn good job,” Butler concluded.

So has Butler.

More good reads from Western Farm Press:

Apple’s revamped ‘Siri’ takes on agriculture’s questions

LGMA addresses food safety issues with regulators

California: Home of the food lawsuit