CATCH THE BUZZ – US (CA): Citrus psyllid found in Tracy, FL still fighting homeowners

The discovery in Tracy, California, of the feared crop pest, the Asian citrus psyllid, mobilized local, state and federal farm officials, Tuesday 3rd May. A single Asian citrus psyllid was identified in the area of Lammers and Valpico roads in Tracy on April 27; government experts are now setting out traps and inspecting trees and shrubs in the immediate area.

Tim Pelican, San Joaquin County agricultural commissioner, said the tiny insect is a dangerous pest.

“While San Joaquin County has very little commercial citrus, there is a $10.7 billion dollar industry statewide not counting the nursery industry,” he said in a news release Tuesday. “It is our duty to not only help protect the industry … but also the citrus that many of us grow in our own backyards.”

Pesticide applications to eradicate the exotic invader are being planned.

Fortunately, other than a commercial nursery near the find site, there are few homes or other areas with landscaping that could provide a home for the Asian citrus psyllid, Pelican said.

If inspectors identify citrus trees or other plants that might host the psyllid within 100 meters of the find site, spray treatments might be needed.

Similar finds of the Asian citrus psyllid in Lodi and Manteca in late 2014 and in Stockton in December 2015 led to quarantines against the removal of citrus fruit and plant material, which remain in place.

Pelican said the unwanted pest has turned up in many parts of California, including in nearly all counties in the San Joaquin Valley.

Meanwhile, In Florida…

US (FL): Citrus legal battle still not over

On Wednesday 4th May a South Florida appeals court turned down constitutional arguments aimed at forcing the state to pay an $8 million judgment, along with millions of dollars in interest and attorney’s fees, to 58,225 homeowners who are part of a class-action lawsuit. This comes eight years after the state lost a lawsuit about the destruction of tens of thousands of citrus trees, meaning that Broward County residents will continue to wait for compensation.

The ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal left open the possibility that constitutional arguments can be pursued again. But as an indication of the years of legal wrangling in the case, the appeals court wrote that Wednesday’s ruling was the “latest chapter of ‘The Book of Citrus Canker’ litigation.”

The case stems from a decision by the Florida Department of Agriculture to destroy healthy trees in an attempt to stop the spread of deadly citrus-canker disease. Attorneys for the homeowners raised property-rights arguments in challenging the department’s actions, and a judgment was entered in 2008 for slightly more than $8 million plus interest. About $4.1 million in attorney’s fees were later added.

The Department of Agriculture has not compensated the homeowners, pointing to state laws that require legislative approval before such payments can be made. The Legislature has not appropriated money to pay the judgment and has not approved what is known as a “claim” bill.