Press Releases

Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill includes $2.85 millions for important California agriculture safety and inspection programs, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today announced.

“Exotic pests can decimate an entire crop.  The USDA estimates that agricultural pests cost the American agricultural industry an annual loss of about $41 billion.  In California alone, pest infestations cost farmers about $3 billion.  So, it is critical that we fund programs to help protect our fields and farms from dangerous invasive pests. 

“At the same time, we must also fund programs to ensure a safe, domestic food supply is available for families across the entire country.  California’s 77,000 farms produce half of the nation’s fruits, vegetable, and nuts.  So a new FDA research facility is critical,” Senator Feinstein said.   

“The Omnibus Appropriations bill includes $2.85 million for a number of vital programs that help protect California’s $32 billion agriculture industry.  Specifically, the bill:

  • Funds a new Food and Drug Administration Center of Excellence for food safety research;
  • Provides funding to the state for agriculture inspection teams, and
  • Aids California counties with pest detection activities.”

FDA Center of Excellence

The Omnibus bill provides $1,489,500 to establish a Western Region Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center of Excellence for Food Safety.  The research facility will be housed at the University of California at Davis, which has research space and equipment available for FDA scientists.  This funding will begin projects in four key areas:

  • pre-harvest food safety,
  • point-source contamination,
  • perchlorate toxicity, and
  • emergency response to an attack on our food supply.

California and the western states provide the majority of the nation’s fruits, vegetables, dairy products and seafood and lead the nation in import and export of food products.  However, there currently are no FDA Centers for research west of the Mississippi. 

CA Dept of Food and Agriculture Inspection

The Omnibus bill provides $737,799 for agriculture inspection operations at terminals inside California, such as nurseries, domestic airports, post offices, express carriers and swap meets. 

State and county workers regularly inspect and investigate incoming domestic plant shipments for pests and diseases of federal concern.  State and local staff are needed to do this work because United States Department of Agriculture assets have been diverted to homeland security, away from agricultural insect and disease inspection. 

Funding provided in Fiscal Year 2006 for state inspection programs financed two dog teams: one in the Bay Area and one in Southern California, and the new funding will establish additional teams.

California County Pest Detection Augmentation Program

The Omnibus bill also provides funds $618,639 to aid California counties with increased high-risk pest exclusion inspection activities for new shipments of plants, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and animals.  This funding is used to maintain a statewide network of insect traps and other detection tools to serve as an early warning system against serious pests.

Pest exclusion is critical to a successful agricultural industry because it is more effective and less costly to prevent the introduction of potentially harmful exotic pests than it is to eliminate them after they have established themselves.