SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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LIVESTOCK AND HORTICULTURE
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JANUARY 31, 2000, LAKE ALFRED, FL
Serial No. 10642
Printed for the use of the Committee on Agriculture
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LARRY COMBEST, Texas, Chairman
BILL BARRETT, Nebraska,
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
NICK SMITH, Michigan
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
KEN CALVERT, California
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
BOB RILEY, Alabama
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
DOUG OSE, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ERNIE FLETCHER, Kentucky
CHARLES W. STENHOLM, Texas,
Ranking Minority Member
GARY A. CONDIT, California
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina
DAVID MINGE, Minnesota
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
EARL POMEROY, North Dakota
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
SANFORD D. BISHOP, Jr., Georgia
BENNIE G. THOMPSON, Mississippi
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
CHRISTOPHER JOHN, Louisiana
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
DAVID D. PHELPS, Illinois
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCKEN LUCAS, Kentucky
MIKE THOMPSON, California
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
JOE BACA, California
WILLIAM E. O'CONNER, JR., Staff Director
LANCE KOTSCHWAR, Chief Counsel
STEPHEN HATERIUS, Minority Staff Director
KEITH WILLIAMS, Communications Director
Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture
RICHARD W. POMBO, California, Chairman
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio,
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
KEN CALVERT, California
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBOB RILEY, Alabama
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota,
Ranking Minority Member
TIM HOLDEN, California
GARY A. CONDIT, Pennsylvania
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
KEN LUCAS, Kentucky
C O N T E N T S
Boyd, Hon. Allen, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida, opening statement
Canady, Hon. Charles T., a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida, opening statement
Pombo, Hon. Richard W., a Representative in Congress from the State of California, opening statement
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWitnesses
Bolusky, Ben, executive vice-president, Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association
Browning, Harold W., center director, Citrus Research and Education Center
LaVigne, Andrew W., executive vice-president and chief executive officer, Florida Citrus Mutual
Loop, Carl B., Jr., president, Florida Farm Bureau
Putnam, Adam, Florida House of Representatives
Raley, Lindsay, Polk County Farm Bureau
Roberts, Martha, deputy commissioner, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, on behalf of Commissioner Bob Crawford
Schwalbe, Charles P., Associate Deputy Administrator, Plant Protection and Quarantine, APHIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Stuart, Michael J., president, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Taylor, R.J., president, Florida Tomato Exchange
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement
Wheeling, Craig, chief executive officer, Brooks Tropicals, Inc.
Griffiths, James T., Citrus Growers Association, Inc., statement
MONDAY, JANUARY 31, 2000
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture,
Committee on Agriculture
Lake Alfred, FL
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:06 a.m., in the Ben Hill Griffin Hall, Citrus Research Center, University of Florida, Lake Alfred, FL, Hon. Richard W. Pombo (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representative Canady.
Also present: Representative Boyd
Staff present: Christopher D'Arcy, subcommittee staff director, Brent Gattis, legislative assistant, and Danelle Farmer, minority consultant.
Mr. POMBO. The subcommitte will now come to order.
I would like to start by asking unanimous consent to allow Congressman Allen Boyd to sit on the committee and to participate in the subcommittee
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD W. POMBO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
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Mr. POMBO. This morning, the Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture will exercise its oversight jurisdiction with regard to issues concerning invasive, harmful and non-native species facing the United States. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome my colleagues, Representatives Canady and Boyd, and to thank them for their interest in this important issue.
At the start of the 106th Congress, this subcommittee's jurisdiction was expanded to include fruits and vegetables. It is clear to me that invasive species represent a serious threat to that sector of American agriculture.
As the House Agriculture Committee anticipates the next farm bill and as we prepare to consider legislation such as the Plant Protection Act, I felt that the committee needed to look closely at invasive species. I hope that we can determine how to better combat this growing problem in an era of increased and expanded agricultural trade between the United States and a growing number of countries. Currently, it is very difficult to put a dollar figure on the total adverse economic costs associated with invasive species. This is due in part because no Federal agency compiles such statistics comprehensively. One recent estimate presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science puts the figure at $123 billion annually, which includes the cost of control, decreased property values, health costs and a variety of other factors.
Invasive species are dealt with under a patchwork of Federal and State laws and regulations administered by a wide variety of Federal agencies, most importantly being APHIS. I believe that it is crucial that the various agencies of the Federal, State and local governments work together, especially in an era of tight budgets, to ensure that all money is spent wisely, avoiding a duplication of effort and the relevant scientific information that is shared.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Florida is a very good place to address these concerns. Like my home State of California, Florida stands on the front lines in a fight against invasive and harmful species, with more than its fair share of problems.
As national leaders in agriculture production as well as entry points for foreign fruits and vegetables entering the country, Florida and California have a unique challenge to combat invasive species. Whether it is fire ants or citrus canker, our two States have so many harmful species as to pose a serious ecological and economic threat to a variety of locations and industries.
In the search for answers and solutions, I want to establish a meaningful dialog involving Federal and State governments, growers, farm bureaus, retailers and everyone in between, to ensure that we do all we can to protect our States from these harmful species. The testimony we will receive will help me and my colleagues to better understand your work and help promote your success.
I welcome all of our witnesses and guests here this morning and I look forward to today's testimony.
Mr. Canady, do you have an opening statement?
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES T. CANADY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. CANADY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would like to briefly thank you for your leadership on this issue and for convening this hearing here in Lake Alfred today.
Everyone in the room knows how important this is to Florida agriculture. This is an issue which is critical to the future of the industry in our State. It is important around the country and I want to thank you for your leadership in focusing on this critical issue.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I also want to acknowledge our colleague, Representative Boyd, and thank him for the hard work he has done to help us deal with the challenges we face in Florida. We are fortunate to have Representative Boyd as a member of the Agriculture Committee and he and Chairman YoungI am sorry the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. He and Chairman Young of the Appropriations Committee have done an outstanding job in helping us get the assistance that we need here in Florida in Federal funding.
What we have seen to date I think is a good cooperative effort between the Federal Government and the State in meeting some of the challenges that we face. But there is an ongoing need for that. I would also like to acknowledge the role of the State legislature and that would not have been possible withoutand we are very glad that the Chairman of the State House Agriculture Committee, Representative Putnam, my State representative, is here with us today. And of course, Commissioner Crawford has done an outstanding job in spearheading this issue for us. I know that Commissioner Crawford had hoped to be here today and had planned to be here. But his travel plans were derailed by the bad weather and the snow and ice that has been experienced over the weekend. So we are glad to have him ably represented here today by Dr. Roberts and we will look forward to her testimony.
With that, I will not give an extended discussion about this problem because we have such an outstanding list of witnesses. And again, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and your staff for the fine work that you have done in putting together this hearing. We truly have an outstanding list of witnesses who I think will bring very helpful information to the subcommittee.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Canady follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES T. CANADY
Mr. Chairman, as the Representative of the 12th Congressional District in Florida, I want to express my appreciation to the subcommittee for holding this important hearing on the serious and ever-increasing threat that invasive species pose to agriculture. I also wish to thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for their ongoing efforts toward the interdiction and containment of foreign pests and disease that cause such significant damage to our State and Nation's agricultural production.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At this time, we are faced with the daunting task of protecting Florida's $8 billion citrus industry from the serious threat of Asiatic Citrus Canker. While in the last year the Federal and State Governments, as well as the citrus industry, committed extensive fiscal resources toward the control of this devastating disease, Citrus Canker has recently been found to be pervasive within South Florida lime groves. An alarming 88 percent of all lime groves inspected since early January are infected with Citrus Canker, forcing the burning of over 110,000 trees. This destructive disease threatens the existence not only of the lime industry, but the viability of the State's entire citrus economy.
Aggressive inspection and eradication of Citrus Canker and other exotic pests and disease is absolutely essential to the survival of this State's agricultural industry and the farm sector nationwide. I believe this hearing provides a timely opportunity to hear from Federal and state government officials and agricultural organizations not only concerning the extensive damage associated with invasive species, but also to hear their recommendations for curtailing future agricultural losses.
Throughout the country, farm production has suffered from exotic pests that have come across our Nation's borders. In California, invasive species such as the Medfly and Pierce's Disease may halt high value exports from infested areas. In the southern United States, boll weevil pests have cost cotton producers and the Federal Government millions of dollars. Noxious weeds have attacked crops in the Carolinas and western States and animal pests and diseases brought in from foreign sources plague American livestock. The effect of harmful pests and disease throughout the Nation is profound. Clearly, we need to reassess our defensive strategy.
Exacerbating the serious economic consequences of invasive species are the outdated quarantine statutes that govern their interdiction. For this reason, I introduced the Plant Protection Act (H.R. 1504) aimed at giving Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) greater enforcement tools to protect against exotic species by modernizing and enhancing the agency's current statutory authority. I will continue to work with my colleagues toward speedy approval of this critical legislation in the 106th Congress. In addition, implementation of APHIS' recent Safeguarding Review Report, which calls for greater input from impacted parties in the agency's decision making process, should be encouraged.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, the enormous effect of invasive species on the movement of agricultural products in international trade can not be over emphasized. Concerns regarding the Mediterranean fruit fly have caused extended negotiations with the Chinese Government in order to allow the export of Florida, California, and Texas citrus. At the same time, U.S. trade negotiators must insist on adherence to strict international phytosanitary standards in our trade policy.
Once again, I thank the chairman for holding this hearing to review the extensive threat posed to Florida agriculture and farm production throughout the country due to invasive pests and disease. I hope that the testimony brought forth today by those most impacted can provide guidance to more effectively combat the grave consequences of invasive species to agriculture.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ALLEN BOYD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. BOYD. Thank you, Chairman Pombo. I want to express my gratitude to you for holding this important hearing here in central Florida and also for allowing me to sit as a guest member of your subcommittee for this hearing. I am grateful for that. Also, to my friend and colleague, Charlie Canady, I have had the opportunity to serve both in the Florida legislature and the U.S. Congress with you and those have been good years together and I know all of you know that Congressman Canady is leaving, and you are going to be sorely missed.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you.
Mr. BOYD. My best wishes to you.
I also want to thank the USDA and the Florida Department of Agriculture for what you do to protect our industry.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I do have a written opening statement for the record that I will not read but just very briefly summarize to say that I feel that it is the Government's responsibility to make sure that the resources are available and adequate to the folks who are charged with doing the job of protecting our industry and our State and our people.
I think that while trade and travel have increased exponentially over the last decade, we have been woefully inadequate in providing the resources to deal with the issues caused by that increased trade and travel. While certainly industry has its obligations in that, ultimately it rests on the shoulders of our governmental agencies to make sure that these invasive pests are not introduced into our State and our country where they can destroy our industry.
I know that Chairman Pombo shares this, coming from, as he stated earlier, a border State of California, he shares my commitment and our commitment to make sure that the resources are available to continue to combat this problem.
The world has changed dramatically since 1912 when we passed the Plant Protection Act. Congress has tried to, over the years, deal with it on a sort of a piecemeal basis and that has been inadequate and that is why I am particularly grateful to Congressman Canady for writing a comprehensive reform of the Plant Protection Act and I look forward to working with you, Chairman Pombo and Congressman Canady to make sure that we pass that in the Congress. That is one thing that we can do.
So thank you for holding this hearing, and I look forward to the testimony. I have reviewed the testimony of many of the panelists today and I think that we are in for a real great and informative day.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Boyd follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ALLEN BOYD
Mr. Chairman, I want to express my thanks to you for having this important hearing in Florida and also for allowing me to participate as a guest member of your subcommittee. And to my friend and colleague, Congressman Canady, I appreciate all that you and your staff have done on behalf of Florida agriculture. You will be missed. I also want to add my thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Florida Department of Agriculture for the job you do in fighting to protect our agriculture against foreign invasive pests. Last year when the Florida Department of Agriculture came into my office, along with representatives from Florida's citrus industry to educate me on economic cost in lost production and crop loss to Florida, I was shocked. That is why Congress and USDA must work together to modernize our current plant protection laws and devote adequate resources to detect these pests and diseases before they destroy our agriculture industry.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I represent the Second Congressional District of Florida, located in north Florida and I serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. I am a fifth generation Florida farmer and have farmed my entire life, growing cotton, peanuts, livestock, timber and sod. I know from personal experience the economic devastation that pests and disease cause to not only the industry and the economy, but to the farmer and his family. Years before my service in public office, the entire cotton industry in the southeast was threatened by the boll weevil. I worked with the national cotton council and my fellow growers to implement the boll weevil eradication program in Florida and Georgia. So I believe I have a good understanding of what is at stake, both emotionally and economically, for the farmers whose livelihood is being threatened.
While there are numerous invasive pests and diseases that are of concern to our Florida tiers today, citrus canker is obviously the most alarming and threatening.
We were very successful this year in getting Congress' attention in the seriousness of this threat to our industry. In the spring, Chairman Bill Young, Congressman. Canady and myself were successful in getting $25 million in appropriations to be matched by State money to hire inspectors and continue the eradication process. Again, in fiscal year 2000, we were able to secure another $25 million towards these efforts, in addition to a $9 million appropriation to compensate the commercial grower for tree loss and $7 million for the residential or Shade/Dade tree replacement program. Sixty-six million dollars is a lot of money, however, we know this is just the beginning of a long, costly battle in our efforts to eradicate this disease.
I know we'll be hearing from folks from the lime industry, but I just want to express my sadness for the tragedy that is happening to our growers in south Florida. Before Hurricane Andrew (1992), south Florida had 6,000 acres in lime production. Afterwards, the industry had just 1,600 acres. In 2000, the industry has approximately 3,500 acres in production. Unfortunately, as of the January 24 almost 1,000 acres of groves had tested positive for canker.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While I know that APHIS, with very limited resources, is tasked with being the lead agency in protecting U.S. agriculture from harmful foreign pests, noxious weeds, and plant diseases, it's this Government's responsibility to make sure that the resources are provided for everyone involved to adequately do the job. In fiscal year 1995, Congress appropriated APHIS $443 million. In fiscal year 1999, that figure was down to $425 million. (This does not include user fees available to APHIS). In our fiscal year 2000 appropriations, APHIS was provided $441 million and hopefully, we'll be able to do better in fiscal year 2001.
I am proud of our agriculture industry in Florida in the way it has have worked together on this issue. While industry certainly has its obligations, there is no doubt in my mind that the responsibility to protect our industry lies squarely on the shoulders of this government. It is not the fault of the producer that our country allows a pest to infiltrate our borders thereby jeopardizing an industry and our farmer's livelihood. I know that Chairman Pombo, coming from the border State of California, shares my commitment to making sure that resources are available to combat this problem.
The world has changed drastically since the Plant Protection Act of 1912. Unfortunately, while piecemeal attempts by Congress have been made along the way, no real comprehensive legislation has been passed to address this crises. That's why I am a co-sponsor of Congressman Canady's bill, H.R. 1504. That does take a comprehensive approach to addressing this problem, and I am committed to working with Congressmen Canady and Pombo to move this legislation along.
In closing, I am concerned for America's agriculture industry, and especially, the family farmer. As our country negotiates more and more trade agreements, opening up our borders to the threat of even more pests and diseases, and continues to operate under a farm policy that clearly does not provide adequate protections to our family farmers, I wonder how many more hers will go out of business before Congress and the administration act.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. Thank you. I thank both of you for joining me here this morning. I think Mr. Boyd's work on agriculture, whether it is Food Quality Protection Act or the invasive species issues is testament to his work on agricultural issues and their impact on Florida. And as he mentioned, I think we are all going to miss Congressman Canady and as a testament to his popularity in his district, he walks into this room with produce sitting on the table and he does not even wince. He just sits down. Usually when politicians walk in a room, if they have got tomatoes sitting there, they kind of look around a little bit. [Laughter.]
But thank you.
I want to welcome our first panel here this morning. We have Dr. Charles Schwalbe, who is the Associate Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine, Animal and Health Inspection Service. We have the Honorable Adam Putnam, who is the chairman of the Florida House Agriculture Committee, and we have Dr. Martha Rhodes Roberts, who is the deputy commissioner for Food Safety.
We will begin with Dr. Schwalbe.
You know, if you want, you can give your testimony sitting down. I am not that formal, if you have not guessed already. [Laughter.]
But what I will tell you before you start is we try to limit the oral testimony to 5 minutes. Your entire written testimony will be included in the record. The lights are there to help you gauge as to how long a 5-minute statement is, but your entire written statements will be included in the record.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES P. SCHWALBE, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, PLANT PROTECTION AND QUARANTINE, ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH INSPECTION SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SCHWALBE. Very good. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of Congress for inviting us to be here with you today.
Mr. Chairman, you had actually referred to the problem of invasive species as a growing problem and indeed that is very much the case. And this is in part due to the increased trade and travel commerce going on in this global economy. But it is also due in part to the different ways that business is being done in this day and age. And this does indeed put our country at great risk.
Professor Dave Pementell from Cornell University published what is going to be an extremely important document for us in years to come, where he summarized the impacts and costs to this country of invasive species and put that estimate at nearly $120 billion annually. Again, I think that this is an important piece of information to have in the scientific literature.
In that APHIS is a key player in contending with this problem, I wanted to make sure that we emphasize the strategy that appears to be most effective in mitigating these risks. When we refer to safeguarding program, we talk not only about the activities that are going on at the ports of entry and those inspection procedures that we follow, but it should be viewed as the entire continuum of activities, beginning with activities done offshore in foreign countries to ensure that any risks originating there are mitigated prior to arrival of these produce products and passengers and such into the United States.
Secondarily in that line would be activities taking place at the port of entry through inspections and treatments, but a critical part of this entire safeguarding continuum has to do with the capacity for the very early detection and response to invasions because invasions will occur in spite of our best efforts in those first two levels of the safeguarding program. It is this ability to find infestations freshly when they first are established here, and to get our arms around them and respond to them. We have any number of successes where that has proven to be an effective and productive strategy. We also have some failures in that regard, which I am sure all of us are well aware of.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So when we talk about safeguarding, I would encourage all of us to keep in mind this broad spectrum of activities that are fundamental to its success.
I would mention just very quickly some of the initiatives underway in APHIS at this point. Fortunately we have been able to restructure some of our user fee program activities and that will enable us to enhance many of these safeguarding activities which we are currently performing. We intend to invest these dollars in three areas.
First, as everyone knows, we need to shore up many of our inspection activities at ports of entry, our land borders, air bordersairports and so forth.
We also believe that much more emphasis needs to go into front end analysis. That is, to identify specifically those risks that are before us and to make sure that we are investing these dollars in the correct area.
And then finally to put researchor funds into developing improved technology for dealing with these problems.
We are focusing on, as a major risk at this point, the growing, apparently growing, incidence of smuggling of commercial quantities of produce into the United States through very devious means in many cases, and we are initiating quite an exhaustive initiative in that regard.
I would mention quickly that this business of identifying risks prior to arrival in the United States is the subject of a study that we are conducting with the National Academy of Sciences to help us better predict the invasiveness of species not known to occur in the United States. It is our believe that like we recognize Mediterranean fruit fly, for example, as an organism that must not be allowed into the United States, that there are other very specific organisms that must not be allowed into the United States. We need to identify them and we need to build a safeguarding program around them to see to it that that line in the sand is not crossed with these agents. What that means is that we will not be able to do everything, but if we can focus our resources on those most important issues. That is our strategy for the future.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, I see my 5 minutes has expired here and I thank you very much for your time and I will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Schwalbe appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF ADAM PUTNAM, FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Chairman, thank you and welcome to Florida. We appreciate the interest that you and the other members of the panel have shown in this critical issue.
I am a fifth generation Floridian and a citrus and cattle grower. I also serve as a State legislator where I chair the Committee on Agriculture. My district encompasses much of the citrus, cattle and phosphate regions here in Florida where we produce 80 percent of the oranges and grapefruits grown in the United States.
Contrary to most stereotypes, Florida agriculture rivals and even surpasses tourism in contributions to our State economy, contributing over $54 billion in 1997.
Florida is also the gateway port of the Western Hemisphere with 10 international airports and 11 deepwater seaports, and handling 113 million tons of gross freight every year. Through our borders pass hundreds of thousands of visitors, tourists, immigrants both legal and illegal, service men and women; brought here by cargo ships, cruise ships, pleasure boats, airlines and even inner tube rafts. Natural migratory patterns of birds, floating debris and climate conditions, coupled with our close proximity to Cuba and other Caribbean nations punctuate the porous nature of Florida's borders. Succinctly, members, it is physically impossible to fully safeguard Florida's borders from unwanted visitors of all shapes and species.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Like farmers and ranchers everywhere though, Florida agriculturists face the perils of the market, mother nature and the demands of retailers and consumers. As if they were not enough, we have adjusted to the increased burden that our Government places on us through labor, pesticide, land use and tax laws. We struggle to grow our agribusinesses to achieve a level of financial security in an industry hardly known for its stability, so that the fruits of our labor may be passed on to the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. These, however, are different issues for a different day and I do not offer them as a digression from today's purpose, but rather to set the table with all the issues that farmers face and to distinguish between the things that we can affect as policymakers and those we cannot.
The exclusion, detection and eradication of exotic pests, plants and disease in order to prevent their establishment is an attainable public policy goal. Preventing introduction is much more cost-effective than preventing establishment, as our current battle with citrus canker illustrates.
As international travel becomes more popular and affordable, we must do a better job of educating travelers and heightening awareness of the dangers of bringing in undeclared items. We must establish appropriate penalties for failure to comply with these laws. As additional international trade agreements are considered, invasive, exotic pest issues must be addressed at the negotiation table, not after the fact. As existing agreements take root and blossom, we must prepare for the inevitable rise in new pest and disease introductions and the corresponding need for additional personnel and processes to deal with them. Make no mistake, gentlemen, it is not my position nor the position of Florida agriculture that these issues should arbitrarily stand in the way of opening up new markets for our exports and offering new opportunities for Florida growers and ranchers. We must recognize though that these are real issues with real costs to the farmer, the consumer and the environment.
Over the last 5 years, Florida has spent over $267 million alone to control and eradicate plants, pests and diseases. These figures reflect only those pests and diseases that we narrowly consider as agricultural in nature. Other invasives such as the melaleuca which has overtaken the Everglades, hydrilla which has overtaken millions of acres of freshwater lakes, and the Australian pine which threatens the entire Florida Keys ecosystem are not included in that figure.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Florida growers and ranchers have borne $140 million in costs associated with controlling these unwanted tourists and estimates run in the hundreds of millions in lost sales. The eyes of our world trading partners are upon us, watching our inspection teams, scrutinizing our eradication and quarantine protocols and in many instances looking for a reason not to allow our commodities into their nations. Other nations need little imagination to use the presence of these pests and diseases to deny our market entry. Just 2 weeks ago, an inspection team from China made an official visit to ascertain our ability to control the spread of these diseases and the potential threats that existed to their nation.
In order for us to effectively wage this battle, the State and Federal Governments must be committed to the same goal, that of preventing the introduction and subsequent establishment of these costly pests and diseases. Governor Bush, Commissioner Crawford and the Florida legislature have made significant strides toward that goal.
All of us here today share a common interest in the future viability and prosperity of American agriculture. The issues before us are a direct and immediate threat to that prosperity. More than that, they represent a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of the American consumer and our environment. In Florida, we have allowed these issues to be viewed narrowly through the lens of agriculture. With little protest, we have tolerated the misguided myth that eradication dollars and detection efforts in our airport terminals and cruise ship embarkation points are deployed solely for the benefit of the farmer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Imagine the public outcry if the Africanized bees were to become established in urban neighborhoods and communities. In the last 2 years, Florida has had 12 such findings. Consider the reaction of the environmental community if the African heartwater tick were to become established in Florida devastating not just our beef and dairy industries, but 80 percent of the deer population.
The consequences of failing to address these threats are much broader than any one industry. We cannot allow agriculture alone to shoulder this burden. Invasives and exotics are more than just Florida's problem, more than just agriculture's problem, more than just America's problem. They are a threat to the health of our citizens and the safety of our food supply.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We look forward to joining hands with the Federal Government in our continued effort to prevent their introduction. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Putnam appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF MARTHA ROBERTS, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES
Ms. ROBERTS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing here in Florida, because we think you have come to the battleground and we appreciate that. And we also appreciate deeply the sponsorship of Congressman Canady of the Plant Protection Act and all of the support for our agricultural budgets to fight this war from the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Boyd.
Agriculture in Florida is severely threatened, not only by the economic problems of the day, the environmental restrictions, but from the flood of plant and animal pests and disease coming into our State. We cannot win this battle alone and we are deeply appreciative of this hearing.
But do not mistake our comments on plant and animal pests and diseases as protectionism, because we are also very supportive of increased markets and we feel the future of agriculture is in future markets both here and abroad.
Chairman Putnam mentioned a Chinese delegation that was in our State a short time ago. In fact, they just left from California on Saturday returning to China. Their visit here was to ensure that we were not going to send them Medflies or any other pests that they did not have. So we have a vicious cycle. We have millions and millions of travelers and of international trade coming into the State that bring with them plant and animal pests and diseases that in turn enter the State and prevent us from having trade to go back to those individual nations.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We take great pride that we are such a diverse agriculture here in the State. We grow commercially over 250 individual crops. We are the greatest diversity, second only to California. You have the bounty there in front of you, we are number one in citrus, we are number one in fresh tomatoes, number one in so many of the fruits and vegetables, number one in foliage plants. We have a huge livestock and horse and cattle and dairy industry in the State. But our very diversity is also a weakness in that with the diversity that we have, we have many commodities that are susceptible to the onslaught of the pests and diseases because we are the beacon for tourist trade and for travel, both domestic and international.
Florida also is a sentinel because we have 21 international ports and airports here in this State that represent a great susceptibility to importation of pests. Orlando International Airport is supposed to surpass 30 million travelers this year. Miami Airport welcomes over 8 million international passengers each year and leads the Nation in perishable agriculture shipments. International air cargo receives shipments from over 144 individual countries, both there in the port and in the airport in Miami.
We are under attack and our very diversity and our strong international trade and tourism are strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Congressmen, we regretas Chairman Putnam indicated, we have spent over $267 million in the last 5 years just to fight imported plant and animal pests and diseases. That can be divided into $57 million appropriated by our State legislature, $51.4 million from Federal funding, $20 million just in the university to try to research particular ways of fighting these pests or to research new methods of identification. And approximately $144 million was spent by our industry, not in lost business but because of specific mandated quarantine provisions that we in Government dictated to them. The agricultural industries of our State are expected to have lost in that 5 years alone $895 million in lost markets.
Some of the invaders we have had in the past, Asiatic citrus canker in 1995, Medfly in 1990, 1997, 1998 fall in that category. But others are the very first introductions in this country of the entire continental United States. Falling into that category would be the Asian citrus psyllid in 1996, oriental fruit fly outbreaks in 1995 and 1999, sweetpotato whitefly, pine shoot beetle, leatherleaf fern anthracnose in 1993, tropical soda apple in 1993 and several gemini viruses of tomatoes in 1997, just to name a few. Once they slip through the safety net, some pests have no chance of being eradicated, such as the brown citrus aphid and citrus leafminer.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Again, we are not talking just about plant pests alone. We have an increasing diversity of livestock and animals. Regrettably we have a diversity of exotic animals. We are now finding such things as African hive beetle destroying our bee industry; different foreign ticks that have come into this State were discovered as coming in the exotic reptile trade from Africa and Asia. We now have 18 Florida counties that are contaminated and infested with specific foreign ticks that have come in since 1997. Some of these are the vectors of African heartwater disease that could destroy the livestock industry in this entire nation, as well as the wildlife industry. Some ticks were found just within the last 2 months infected with the rickettsia that can cause the disease. We are delighted we found no disease, but we are very fearful.
We are not all alone. We have joined with other specialty crop States of New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas because we have the very same vulnerability and the very same problems. We represent within those five States, 25 percent of U.S. agriculture and 25 percent of the U.S. Congress. We are delighted that we have some sister States that are concerned with the very same plant and animal pest and disease problems as is Florida.
So in conclusion, I would just say to you that foreign invasive plant and animal pests and diseases are damaging our producers, they are restraining and preventing our trade, they are injuring our environment and our ecology and our human health with such parasites as cyclospora and other food borne illnesses being imported into this nation, and they are draining our budgets both here in the State and federally.
We must continue to work cooperatively back and forth with APHIS and our sister agencies, federally. We are very pleased with that cooperation. We are very pleased with the partnership with our universities. But we cannot maintain this battle at the level we are fighting it.
We are deeply appreciative of your attention and support and we welcome any questions.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The statement of Mr. Crawford appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you. I thank you for your testimony, I thank the panel. I did have a couple of questions. I would like to start with Dr. Schwalbe.
Obviously when you talk about Federal involvement, the bottom line on all these decisions that are made is budget, budget staffing levels in terms of our involvement. Can you give me some kind of idea as to what the staffing levels have done in a State like Florida over the last few years? It is obvious that we have increased the amount of produce going in and out, there has been a substantial increase in tourism, in people going in and out. How have we responded to that in terms of staffing levels and budget levels?
Mr. SCHWALBE. Mr. Chairman, I can provide very specific details to your question later on, but if I may just talk briefly about it in general terms. We have I think done a better job of acknowledging what the high risk activities are; that is, with the limited resources that we have, how can they be deployed to greatest advantage. And in so doing, we have perhaps robbed Peter to pay Paul.
Over the years, certainly our agricultural quarantine inspection resources have increased, perhaps not in accord with the increased level of travel and commerce and so forth, but I would note that during that period of time while agricultural quarantine inspection activities have done well, budget-wise, some of the other more traditional domestic activities of our agency have faltered. And in specific, I would refer to our capacity to have an infrastructure and the resources for early detection of new invasions, of our programs of biological control and pest management to respond to these new invaders which are not able to be eradicated.
And so I think while one looks broadly at our budget over the years, I do believe we have kept fairly good pace with our inspectionour inspection activities have kept fairly good pace with the workload around us, but it is these other facets of the safeguarding program that I think currently are in need of attention.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. One question, in your statement you brought up the smuggling of commercial quantities of produce. Can you give me an example of that?
Mr. SCHWALBE. Certainly. There are examples, a very specific example, in the last 3 months, occurred on a U.S.-Mexican border with the discovery of a hidden shipment of Mexican avocados coming into the United States without compliance with the protocol that we have for importing this produce. We have had any number of significant seizures across the Canadian border, and interestingly, Canada is ablebecause of their indifference towards fruit fly pests, imports a great deal of tropical fruits and vegetables into their country without treatment. And it is a small matter then for a business person in the United States to load up a shipment of this produce and sneak it across the border and put it into our markets anywhere in these United States.
Now one would expect that you could counter that threat by putting a lot of people on the Canadian border and inspecting every piece of traffic that comes across, and you quickly realize that is not the answer to this problem. The answer to this problem is doing excellent intelligence gathering, finding out what these networks of business people are, and to strategically intervene in these activities.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Putnam, over the last few years, there has been a substantial amount of work that has been done in terms of moving toward normalizing trade relations with Cuba. I would like to get your response on how would that relate to the State of Florida in terms of foreign pests and diseases, the impact on the State of Florida if that were to happen.
Mr. PUTNAM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The potential impact of the opening of the Cuban market is devastating. Because of the nature of our relations with them now, we have no understanding or knowledge of their protocol and procedures. We can only assume that they are woefully inadequate. The volume of trade that would result from the renormalization of trade relations with Cuba into Florida would be greatlywould greatly exceed any other impact on any other State, just because of our proximity to that market. And because of the similarities in climate, in growing regions, in crops between Cuba and Florida, then we also face a greater likelihood that the pests that are out of control in Cuba would immediately be introduced and become established in Florida without an extraordinary inspection and detection effort that would proceed any importation of agricultural commodities from that nation.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. That is one message I think that really needs to get out. I know at the end of this last session, there was a real push put on and that is one of the issues that I do not believe was put on the table adequately, and that message does need to get out about what some of the concerns are.
Thank you. Mr. Canady.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Chairman Pombo.
I again want to thank all the members of this panel for being here. Your testimony has been very helpful to us in getting a broad perspective on this issue.
Mr. Schwalbe, I want to thank you and the other representatives of the Department of Agriculture for working together with us on the Plant Protection Act. Hopefully our efforts on that legislation willno pun intendedbear fruit this year so that the Department will have more comprehensive authority for meeting the responsibilities that are on the Department now. And I appreciate your ongoing work on that.
I do want to ask you one question that relates to a subject that has come up about the visit from the officials from China. That is, of course, a very important issue to Florida citrus growers, it is also important to citrus growers in California and I wonder if you could give us an update on what the final discussions were like with the Chinese before they departed, whether we in fact have seen the approval of final protocols for the shipment of citrus or whether we have still got more work to do on that. That is related to the broader topic that we are talking about here today and it is of some immediate interest.
Mr. SCHWALBE. Thank you, sir.
I checked on that about 9:30 this morning, so I would have the latest possible information for you because I know there is a tremendous interest in this topic.
I would like to say that the State cooperators from the States that the Chinese delegation visited did just an outstanding job of presenting their programs, making the case and so forth. I have to report to you that we do not have a final answer from the Chinese, we did not frankly expect to have one. They do not tend to do business in that way, but the visit was very positive. Under Secretary Dunn himself visited with them in California on Friday afternoon, so I think we put our best possible foot forward and our country and our State cooperators have a great deal to be proud of in the programs that they conduct to deal with these pests that China is worried about. And so I am confident thatand we are all optimistic that we will receive an affirmative response back from them shortly.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are of the belief that they may need to ask a question or two, which we will need to clarify and when we get through that procedure, hopefully we can be in business.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you very much. I do not have any more questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Boyd.
Mr. BOYD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have several questions.
First of all, I want to say before I ask the questions, that I am delighted that the three of you are here. Dr. Martha Roberts, I have known for many, many, many years and your service to this State and to the agricultural industry is well recognized and we are grateful to you for all the years that you have given us. Thank you very much.
And you have sitting beside you a young man who probably will serve like you have, for many, many years. At least some of us hope he will.
And Dr. Schwalbe, I have not had a chance to interact with you previously, but I look forward to that opportunity.
Congressman Pombo asked earlier about adequate resources. I think he asked the question of you. I would just likefor the record, the information that I have is that the part of your budget that has responsibility for these invasive pests, the inspection system, if you will, back in 1995, was about $443 million; and in 1999now this is raw dollarsin 1999, the Congress allocated $425 million. That is less raw dollars in a scenario where obviously there are some inflationary costs. But on top of that, what has happened in terms of the exponential growth of trade and travel and the pressure that has been put on these ports and the job that they should be doing. I say that to open to show that this Congress has not done what it should do. Hopefully we can turn that around. We, as you know, in the current fiscal year, have increased that number and we are going to make every attempt to continue to increase it.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Schwalbe, you outlined in your comments somethingtwo points that I picked up on. One was that first of all, your responsibility, our responsibility as a government, is to keep the pests out. Now we know we are not going to always win that battle, we know that we are going to have pests come here from time to time. The second point is that once those pests are introduced here, that we have the ability and the resources and the knowledge to deal with it quickly and effectively to prevent spread. And I really want to deal with that second part because I think we have not done the job that we should have done and I think that is evident by the fact that we have a catastrophicpotentially a catastrophic situation going on now with citrus canker.
Citrus canker honestly came here 5 years ago into this State. You know, some of us are wondering now what has happened in the last 5 years, why we have not been more attentive to dealing with this issue.
I have in my hand a report that is an action plan for citrus canker. Now on the bottom of it, it says action plan for citrus canker, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industries, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. I assume this is a document put together in concert between the two agencies.
Mr. SCHWALBE. Correct.
Mr. BOYD. In that document on pages 6 and 7, it describes the survey procedures, what is to be surveyed and how it is to be surveyed in a situation where you have a pest that has been introduced.
And my question really goes to Dr. Roberts and Mr. Schwalbe. What is the protocol for chain of command, if you will, once we discover a pest like citrus canker here? What is the protocol, who is in charge, who works for who, on the ground what kind of teams do we have in place when that happens?
Ms. ROBERTS. Congressman Boyd, I would offer that it is a joint State-Federal project and we are delighted, since we knew some questions would come up in that regard, that we have available for you Deputy Commissioner Craig Meyer, who is over that program now, as well as Richard Gaskeller, our division director for the Division of Plant Industry, and Connie Ryherd, deputy, the assistant director, who was here with the Chinese delegation and we also sent out to California to be there at that final meeting. So they are all three here to address any specific questions. But it is a joint State-Federal partnership. The action plan is there to give the guidance as to the procedures that should be followed in attacking and aggressively fighting to eradicate citrus canker in the quarantine zones that are established when it is detected.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So if I may, any specific questions on that, we have Deputy Commissioner Meyer.
Mr. BOYD. Great. Well, what I am trying to get atand I went through thisI come from a different part of the State where we are not able to grow citrus, we grow some other crops. And we have been through some eradication procedures with, for instance, the boll weevil in the cotton. And I know it was a State/Federal, but it seems to beI assume the model is the same, that actually USDA is in charge on the ground, is thator do you have a team that works together or how does that work, Mr. Schwalbe?
Mr. SCHWALBE. Let me address that if I may.
We always work in partnership with our State cooperators regardless of the program we are involved in. And sometimes down to the county and local levels, because that is the best way to get work done. I will say that it is the responsibility of APHIS to have the battle plan pulled together, to see to it that the right resourcing is done and that we have the appropriate Federal engagement so that interstate and international regulatory issues can be properly dealt with.
I think when we look at the citrus canker program, we are dealing with, if I may refer to it as a bit of an outlier from the normal kinds of invasions that we encounter. It is a very difficult pest to contend with. Our technology for dealing with it is pathetic and its movement is subject so much to the vagaries of weather and all other sorts of means of spread. So it is an extremely difficult issue to deal with.
I think if we were to look at some of these other more positive examples with what I hope will be a positive outcome from this invasion of plum pox virus up in Pennsylvania, that we see this thing early, we have it resourced well from the beginning and we can get the proper type of program in place.
Citrus canker has a history to it in this country that has complicated our response. There were early uncertainties about the diagnosis and the actual identification of the biotype that was causing problems and so forth. But I think that our worst enemy with citrus canker is the fact that you cannot tell it is there until you walk up to a tree and see its evidence.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOYD. But that is something we have known for a long time. I guess the question we are asking, or I am trying to find out now is who do our industry folks look to, do we look to the USDA and the Florida Departmentwho do we hold accountable, who do we hold responsible for making the decisions to get done? And I think I am hearing you say both Federal and State and we welcome Craig Meyer to the podium.
Mr. POMBO. Dr. Roberts, if you have somebody that is able to answer the question, I would welcome them up to the panel, and sir, if you can identify yourself for the record.
Mr. MEYER. Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman, my name is Craig Meyer, I am Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture. My principal area within the Department of Agriculture of the State of Florida is the eradication of plant diseases and the number one disease on our radar scope right now is our citrus canker program. So I am involved with the citrus canker program daily.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Mr. BOYD. May I continue?
Mr. POMBO. Yes.
Mr. BOYD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We have all followed the spread of the citrus canker and, you know, I read from the page in your action plan on page 6, it talks about buffer areas, for instance, in the survey section. You have one set of guidelines for quarantine areas, another set of guidelines for non-quarantine areas, buffer areas, and I have also read that the lime areas, the lime groves, which now as I understand it, about 30 percent of the groves, lime groves, in that Homestead area, have been detected with citrus canker.
Mr. MEYER. Yes, sir, that is correct.
Mr. BOYD. Those have not been inspected in 3 years, or since the outbreak of canker or whathelp us here. How can we get to the position where we are finding canker in every grove we go in, if we have a good protocol, a good action plan in place that is supposed to help us prevent the spread of that? That is where I am going. I am just trying to get some information here.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MEYER. May I respond, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. POMBO. Yes.
Mr. MEYER. Mr. Boyd, essentiallyand I am not sure of the last date that the inspectors were down in the lime grove arealet me start and answer it this way, the general movement of the disease through Dade County has been from the southwest to the northeast. That is the prevailing weather pattern through Dade County and our surveys and our research have confirmedthe surveys have confirmed the research that the scientists have done, which indicate that canker generally moves by weather in the Dade County and Broward County areas from the southwest to the northeast. We had one or two small outbreaks identified in the southern area, not in the lime groves but near the lime groves. We acted quickly on those, those were cases of plant material and/or tools being moved south.
Again, I can find out and get back to you on what the exact date of the last survey in the lime groves was.
Following last fall's tropical storm events of which there were three major ones, the data was sent to Dr. Gotwald, who is with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and who is one of the world's leading experts on citrus canker. Dr. Gotwald analyzed the data and reported back to our Citrus Canker Technical Advisory Committee, which consists not only of State officials, but USDA officials, industry representatives and scientific representatives. Dr. Gotwald reported back to us that based on his analysis of the wind patterns throughout the Dade and Broward areas as a result of the three tropical storm events, that we would, beginning in late December or early January find citrus canker in the lime grove areas. We went down there, we looked, we found it.
Mr. BOYD. Well I think I understand. You said from southwest to northeast?
Mr. MEYER. Yes, sir, that is the principal movement ofthe original infestation as identified by the scientists occurred in the Westchester area which is southwest of the Miami International Airport and it has been moving northeast since that find.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOYD. Right.
Mr. MEYER. The last time that we surveyed lime groves in the Dade County, Homestead, Florida City area was in the months of February and March of last year, which would be consistent with our protocol for a quarantine area.
Mr. BOYD. Well, it might be time to reconsider that, particularly if you are going by some hard and fast rule about southwest to northeast, because that would put it in the Atlantic Ocean pretty quickly and we are getting outbreaks all over the other parts of the State, south and west instead of north and east.
But you know, I guess what I am going to ask you all to do is, you might want to revisit your action plan in light of the things that have happened and figure out whether we think we are following an action plan properly and if we have the proper things in the action plan.
For instance, in the action plan, you haveyou define buffer areas as a one square mile around the quarantine area. And also any other areas that might be considered high risk for disease spread based on epidemiology and storm predictions, which you just addressed.
And those are to becitrus groves are to be inspected every 120 days. That is every what, 4 months. So that would be three times a year. Even in non-quarantine areas. And I think that is where we are now, we have got to consider the whole State a potential risk. You have protocol in there that outlines that they should be inspected on some regular basis. And I justI mean if I was in this industry, I would be extremely concerned about the viability and the future of my ability to stay in business. And I just wanted you to know, Dr. Roberts and Mr. Schwalbe, that we will work with you and help any way we can, but weI see some inherent problems in this action plan, the way it is written and maybe whether it is being followed or not.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, that is really all I have.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Ms. ROBERTS. Mr. Chairman, if I might just respond briefly on that. I think the discussion of the last few minutes highlights the fearful situation that we are in. We are spending $50 million to $60 million a year on citrus canker alone. Each one of these other pests that we documented in the table that we gave you that have been introduced to Florida just in the last 5 years, we could spend anywhere from $5 million to $100 million on each individual pest. That is not even adding in the 18 counties now in which we have been invaded with these foreign ticks. If we quickly added up what it would take to fight each one of these invasive plant and animal pest and diseases dramatically and intensivelyand this citrus canker program is a very dramatic and intensive programbut if we added up each individual one, I do not think that State legislatures or federally, Congress, could appropriate sufficient dollars to do what we really need to do to totally get rid of each and every one of these diseases.
I think the citrus canker program is a dramatic, intensive eradication effort and we welcome any comments relative to areas that it should be reviewed. But I think this whole hearing and the list we have given you intensifies and dramatically shines a spotlight and a focus on this never-ending drain on our State and Federal budget when these pests and diseases enter this nation.
Mr. BOYD. Mr. Chairman, if I might?
Mr. POMBO. Yes.
Mr. BOYD. I agree with you. And I think Representative Putnam has, in his presentation, outlined the fact that it is really not totally the concern of just agriculture, it is all segments of our society, whether it be the bee, the killer bee; you know, the heartwater diseasewhich I know you guys were on top of immediately and I assume that you are putting an action plan in place to deal with thathas the ability to totally destroy our livestock industry in the State.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I understand the magnitude of the problems that we face, but when we do get an outbreak, we have to act more swiftly and precisely and decisively, I believe.
Mr. POMBO. Well, I thank the panel for your testimony and for the questions. Before I excuse you, I just have to say that everybody in agriculture are free traders, they talk about having the ability to chase world markets and that being a big part of the future of agriculture. But as part of that, there are problems like this that come up and we have to address this part. Dr. Roberts, you and I have had a chance to talk before about this particular problem, the amount of money that the State of Florida has put into eradication efforts, the amount of money that the Federal Government has put into it, and from the testimony we are receiving today, it is a drop in the bucket as to what is really needed, and we are just talking about Florida, not considering some of the impacts on some of the other States that you mentioned are working with you. It is an immense problem that is going to take an immense amount of money to solve, or at least keep ahead of.
Before we get too far down this road, I think we had better stop and look at the money that is needed to actually do the job because we are never going to keep up with it.
But I thank you for your testimony. I will excuse this panel.
I would like to call up our second panel. We have Mr. Carl Loop, Mr. Andrew LaVigne, Mr. Ben Bolusky, Mr. Michael Stuart, Mr. Jay Taylor, Mr. Craig Wheeling, Dr. Harold Browning and Mr. Lindsay Raley.
It looks like we have got everybody here. Mr. Loop, I am going to start with you. I think you heard the explanation of your oral testimony. We will give you 5 minutes for that. Your entire testimony obviously will be included in the record, but if you are ready, you can begin.
STATEMENT OF CARL B. LOOP, JR., PRESIDENT, FLORIDA FARM BUREAU
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. LOOP. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the panel. It is good to have you here and have you in south Florida this morning.
My name is Carl Loop, I am a nurseryman from Jacksonville and president of the Florida Farm Bureau. I would like to thank the committee for having this field hearing in Florida. The issue of invasive species is especially important to Florida's agricultural industry, our members and our citizens of the State.
Florida has battled invasive pests over a century, whether it was Medfly in citrus and vegetables, screw worms in livestock or even water hyacinths in our public waterways, it has been a costly and time-consuming endeavor.
Our members have gone on record with the following policy statement, and I quote:
Since new and exotic pests have had such an adverse environmental and economic impact on agriculture and the citizens of Florida, we should maintain an effective State-Federal pest exclusion and control program. Specific steps should be taken to:
(1) Assure that USDA/APHIS develop and maintain effective pest exclusion programs at ports of entry.
(2) Assure that Congress appropriates USDA/APHIS/AQI user fee funding at the maximum level.
(3) Ensure that USDA/APHIS fill vacant positions in a timely manner to maintain effective exclusion programs.
(4) Guarantee the development and maintenance of Federal/State programs that would exclude and/or control pests.
!We support strengthening of Quarantine 37 and other plant import regulations that will continue efforts to increase enforcement of these regulations as a means of limiting introduction of exotic pests into the United States where environmental regulations limit control methods.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to break my comments this morning into three partsthe past history, the present issues and the future outlook.
Prior to 1900, there were very few pest control measures available to farmers. New plants or animals were introduced with no oversight or concern about hitch-hiking pests. But on the positive, travel was often slow and tedious and it was not the problem that it is now.
However, as trade and tourism increased, along with the speed and convenience of travel, we saw more frequent outbreaks and a new factor came to bear. The cost of eradication now became a major concern for widespread infestations.
A classic example is that of the Caribbean fruit fly. In the 1950's, a major infestation was found in our citrus producing areas. By 1964, USDA/APHIS determined that the CaribFly would never be a major economic pest for our citrus industry. Thirty-five years later, the CaribFly is endemic to Florida and is a major pest for fresh citrus in Florida. Florida growers literally spend millions of dollars each year to meet the export protocol. Without the Federal Government as a partner, State eradication efforts are doomed to fail.
As a nurseryman, I can personally tell you the devastating effect that a small pest such as leaf miner can bring to an operation. In the early 1980's, a leaf miner was brought into Florida on Colombian cut flowers. This pest attacked the chrysanthemum crop and made the crop unmarketable. It took several years to get that pest under control and during that time, I thought we may not be able to continue producing mums in Florida. This pest also devastated the celery industry. Our industry literally lost millions because of this pest, invested millions to get new products developed to have effective control, and we continue to pay to keep it out of crops.
There are many other horror stories or examples that I could give, but the reality is that we must learn from our mistakes and experiences and move forward.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Well, where do we go from here? We are supportive of the blue ribbon stakeholder committee's ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources.'' It is our hope that USDA/APHIS will restructure across the plant and animal sectors to develop a more proactive, visionary agency. At times, we are concerned that USDA/APHIS serves two mastersprotecting American plant and animal resources while expediting trade. Our members often feel that they are sacrificed on the altar of trade by their government. We feel that there must be a strong commitment for sanitary and phytosanitary programs for imports. While government cannot offer trade protection, our growers must be protected from offshore pests. After all, this is not just an agricultural issue, it is an issue that touches every U.S. citizen.
We are appreciative of the President, that he has recognized the impact of invasives and addressed them through a Presidential Executive Order. There are several issues at work that cause us some concern. First, this issue of invasive plants is a nationwide concern for public and private lands. We feel that this will be perceived only as a western public lands issue. Because of this, we do feel that the Executive Order should be a part of any legislation. We are also fearful that the debate may move to an effort to only allow native species on public lands. In the southeast, bahai grass is non-indigenous and can be classed as invasive. This species is an important forage crop and is used extensively to establish road right-of-ways and literally covers millions of acres in the south.
Finally, I would like to talk about the State and Federal coordination of the various phases of invasive pests surveillance/exclusion programs. We are very proud of both the Florida Department of Agriculture program and the USDA program in Florida. We have found both agencies to be open and receptive to industry input. We believe we truly are a model of how the system should work. Unfortunately, sometimes decisions are made in Washington based on budget or other considerations. If the Commodity Credit Corporation funds cannot be accessed, then we need to consider the development of an invasive pest trust fund.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Florida growers do not ask for subsidies and are willing to meet the free trade market head on. What they do ask their government for is protection against unwanted invasive pests by having strong exclusion, detection and eradication programs. We are willing to shoulder our responsible, but do not handicap us by having ineffective programs.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Loop appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you, sir.
STATEMENT OF ANDREW W. LAVIGNE, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT AND CEO, FLORIDA CITRUS MUTUAL
Mr. LAVIGNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee. I am Andy LaVigne, executive vice-president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, a trade association that represents more than 11,500 Florida citrus growers. As you mentioned, I have prepared a statement and will submit that to the record and attempt to summarize my comments for you today.
We are extremely pleased, as everyone at this table is, and in this room, that you have chosen to come to Florida to see some of the problems that we address on a daily basis. The citrus industry is concerned with the potential for the introduction of invasive pests and diseases that could ultimately affect our ability to compete in today's global marketplace.
For your information, the Florida citrus industry encompasses more than 850,000 acres of planted citrus with a farm gate value of $1.2 billion and an overall economic value to the State's economy of more than $8 billion. The industry employs more than 140,000 people across the State and we produce fresh and processed product that is consumed throughout the world. Florida is the second largest producer of oranges in the world and produces 76.1 percent of the U.S. orange crop. We also produce 77 percent of the U.S. grapefruit and 47 percent of the world's grapefruit supply.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I mention this because the citrus community is made up of several generations of growers who have made extensive capital investments in order to produce a healthy and wholesome product. It is their way of life. Unfortunately, as we have seen over the last several years, the introduction and infestation of a disease such as Asiatic citrus canker can literally wipe out that investment and family history overnight.
Mr. Chairman, much like your home State of California, Florida's fruit and vegetable industry is under attack. Over the last 2 years alone, we have experienced infestations of Mediterranean fruit fly, Oriental fruit fly, and Asiatic Citrus Canker. This is in addition to the other pests and plant diseases that are indigenous now in the State of Floridacitrus tristeza virus, brown citrus aphid, melaleuca, Brazilian pepper. And as Dr. Roberts said, the list goes on and on.
We know that the growth in trade in Florida will continue with our ports and our airports, and that is an issue that we have to deal with. We will continue to be a large cargo and import State in this global marketplace and we will be the doorway for many industries bringing product into this State. However, we realize that trade and travel into Florida, as I mentioned, will continue, but we also realize that there must be a fundamental change in the way that our government interdicts and eradicates pests and diseases that are introduced into this country.
If the trend we have seen in the last couple of years continues, infestations will start in urban areas of the State and move to the agriculture production areas. This is where the change needs to occur. Eradication efforts in the future must be swift and strategic and effective.
As Congressman Boyd mentioned, time is of the essence in these situations. We have seen, in the case of citrus canker in south Florida, allowing the process to be extended because of politics,
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCpublic pressure and other reasons has caused the problem to move from a 15 square mile eradication program to one that today impacts over 600 square miles of the urban area of Dade County, close to 1,000 acres of lime groves in Dade County, close to 1,000 acres of citrus production in four counties throughout the State, not only painfully extending the program for the foreseeable future, but also dramatically increasing the cost per eradication.
A quick, decisive eradication program in 1995 would have been painful at that time, but we would not have the awesome task we have before us today in the eradication efforts of citrus canker.
Also, the State and Federal Government must incorporate a public education component into its interdiction and eradication programs. The public must understand that the long-term viability of the agriculture industry is at stake, as well as the urban communities. Many of these pests and diseases infest the trees and urban canopies of our cities in the canopies they enjoy today. Many of our growers are working to implement decontamination procedures and processesthese are expensive procedures that you are not compensated forin an effort to ensure or try to ensure that canker is not spread to your groves, but as we have seen in the south Florida situation in some of the citrus producing areas, if your neighbor does not take those efforts, you could just as easily lose your crop as well.
We also need to work extensively to ensure that interdiction occurs before the pest reaches U.S. soil. Once it reaches U.S. soil, it becomes an eradication effort, gets costly and the public becomes involved and it becomes very, very difficult.
I will also add our support for the implementation of the parts or as much of the 300-plus recommendations that are included in the Safeguarding Report, and passage of Congressman Canady's legislation, H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act.
We appreciate you extending us the opportunity to provide insight into the concerns that the Florida citrus industry has in the battle against imported pests and diseases. We stand ready to support your efforts to pass H.R. 1504 before the close of this legislative session and to begin implementing the recommendations in the Safeguarding American Plant Resources Report.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The successful movement of these initiatives will greatly help protect and ensure the long-term viability of the Florida citrus industry.
Thank you for your continued support.
[The prepared statement of Mr. LaVigne appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF BEN BOLUSKY, EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, FLORIDA NURSERYMEN & GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Mr. BOLUSKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be with you and Congressman Canady and Congressman Boyd this morning. I am Ben Bolusky, executive vice-president of the Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association. We are very pleased you are here in Florida to review the harmful effects of invasive species on agriculture. I am especially pleased to testify not only on behalf of the Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association, but also my alma mater, if you will, the American Nursery & Landscape Association, based in our Nation's capital.
FNGA represents Florida's leading 1,900 production nurseries, landscape firms, retail garden centers and horticultural suppliers. While California is the nation's largest nursery production State, Florida is the second largest, with nursery growers' farm gate sales estimated just shy of $1.5 billion in 1997. Florida is the nation's largest producer of foliage or indoor house plants. As one of the three largest segments of agriculture in Florida, the nursery and landscape industry employs approximately 140,000 workers in the Sunshine State and makes a $5.4 billion impact on Florida's economy.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The nursery and greenhouse industry is an exciting success story in American agriculture. According to USDA's economic research service, nursery and greenhouse operations had estimated sales in 1998 nationwide in excess of $12 billion farm gate. Grower cash receipts from nursery and greenhouse sales have grown steadily over the last two decades and are now increasing at approximately $500 million per year. To continue growing and thriving, the nursery industry needs the Federal Government's help in safeguarding our industry and the other segments of agriculture from invasive plant pests.
Nursery growers produce a vast array of plant varieties, so when a foreign plant pest slips through the pest exclusion safety net, it almost always finds a niche that harms some aspect of our industry. Once a pest does become established, our industry often faces market disrupting quarantines as well as new production challenges. Florida is particularly vulnerable, given its subtropical climate and the level of foreign trade and travel entering the State. Recognized as a sentinel area for pest introduction and establishment, Florida needs to be protected. California is certainly in a very similar situation.
Given these unique concerns, the industry was pleased to see APHIS seek the National Plant Board's help in conducting a review of efforts to exclude, detect and respond to pest and weed threats. ANLA's senior director of government relations co-chaired that safeguarding review and we are deeply committed to implementation of its roughly 300 recommendations.
We support a recently proposed rule by APHIS to increase the user fees levied on foreign trade and commerce. These fees fund most of the pest exclusion activities that occur at airports and ports of arrival collectively called agricultural quarantine inspection. A Federal appropriation supplements the user fee generated amount. The proposed fee increase is needed to adequately fund these activities.
More generally, the safeguarding review identified a number of needed actions to ensure that the APHIS plant safeguarding system is effective, science-based, not distorted by political considerations and implemented in an environment of open and meaningful collaboration. We are encouraged APHIS is approaching implementation of the review very seriously. We also encourage Congress to maintain periodic oversight to ensure this commitment continues.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, we respectfully request your support for restoration of funds needed to maintain critical domestic quarantine programs, most notably the recent imported fire ant, which is prevalent in Florida, throughout the southern States, and recently discovered in California. APHIS funding for the imported fire ant quarantine was virtually eliminated for the current fiscal year. The cost of implementing this quarantine, vital to slowing the spread of the serious human health and agricultural pest, has been shared historically by APHIS, its State cooperators, and the regulated industry. Elimination of the Federal share unfairly shifts the funding burden for pest survey and regulatory work to the States and industry alone, despite the clear Federal objective of protecting uninfested areas from this pest. The Federal quarantine also establishes a uniform, consistent set of rules for Florida's producers and those in other infested States, to certify and ship their product. Again, we request your help in ensuring a continued Federal role.
We have been active members of the coalition seeking passage of a Plant Protection Act since a consensus building effort was initiated back in the mid1990's. The time for enactment has come. Congressman Canady's bill, H.R. 1504, enactment will not outright solve all of our invasive pest problems, but will start us on the journey toward a more coherent and effective U.S. pest safeguarding system. In fact, passage of the bill is the number one recommendation of the safeguarding review.
New trading patterns pose new and dangerous risks. APHIS and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and its Division of Plant Industries must be armed with a menu of effective pest detection, prevention and eradication and other response programs, to guard against the arrival and combat the effects of invasive plant pests and noxious weeds.
While the main thrust of this legislation is to streamline and clarify existing authorities, H.R. 1504 would strategically enhance certain APHIS authorities. We support these enhancements, particularly three:
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC (1) A stronger framework for managing noxious weeds. Noxious weeds pose the same production headaches for nursery growers as for other farmers. Nurseries perhaps spend more on weed control than any other category of pest management. Invasive plants have become a serious problem in some natural areas of Florida. I am pleased to report to this subcommittee that last year FNGA issued a call to Florida nursery growers to phase out production, sale and use of 11 commercially grown plant species thought to be invasive here in this State.
One of the other areas to enhance APHIS authority are to enhance penalty authority. On that note, civil penalties that may be assessed in the case of smuggling and other quarantine violations are so low as to be viewed as nothing more than perhaps the cost of doing business if caught. H.R. 1504 would augment civil penalty authority to a level where potential penalties could serve as a deterrent to illegal activity that threatens U.S. plant resources
And the third point, a balanced approach to State preemption. Under current law, when USDA promulgates quarantine regulations for a specific invasive pest, States are properly preempted from exceeding those Federal requirements. However, States are free to impose their own rules when no Federal rules exist. This historic approach has generally offered a balance between a fair and level playing field for both trade and States' rights. That balance is carried forward in H.R. 1504 with a measure of added flexibility for the States. The bill would allow USDA to recognize a special need of a locality, State or States for protection beyond that of a Federal rule. Under this new flexibility, California, Florida or other States could petition for the right to exceed the requirements of a Federal quarantine provided such special need is science-based. Plant protection and pest safeguarding are shared Federal/State responsibilities that can only succeed with close cooperation. H.R. 1504 advances the framework for cooperative efforts and we congratulate Congressman Canady for his leadership in introducing the bill.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the continued growth and success of the U.S. nursery industry, and indeed all of agriculture, depends on our collective ability to achieve plant protection, pest safeguarding and export facilitation goals. A strong and relevant USDA contribution to the overall pest safeguarding effort is critical. The Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association and the American Nursery & Landscape Association are both confident that H.R. 1504 will better position APHIS, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and other State partners to fulfill their increasingly challenging pest safeguarding roles.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your tremendous leadership on this and other issues that are of critical importance to the nursery industry.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bolusky appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL J. STUART, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA FRUIT & VEGETABLE ASSOCIATION
Mr. STUART. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, good morning. Perhaps at this point in time, I should just say ditto and move on because quite frankly in listening to the earlier panel and the first three members of this panel, virtually everything has been said, so I will not try and go back through and be too repetitive. But what I would like to do is just briefly summarize a couple of the key points in our testimony and then move on to the other witnesses.
My name is Mike Stuart, I am the president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and we greatly appreciate you taking the time, Chairman Pombo, to come to Florida and review this issue with us. Obviously it is a critical issue for Florida agriculture and all of American agriculture. I also want to thank Representative Canady for his tremendous leadership in this area and his sponsorship of the Plant Protection Act, as well as his leadership on a whole variety of issues facing Florida agriculture over the last 8 years. We are going to dearly miss you in Congress.
Representative Boyd, I specifically want to thank you for all your tremendous support, particularly in the appropriations process during this last year and working very hard to get some of the dollars back for our industry for citrus canker. Your hard work is extremely well appreciate. Thank you very much.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think all of you know, Florida growers are on the front line of this battle and you are going to hear from a couple of growers here in just a minute. What I am extremely concerned about, quite frankly, is that we are losing that battle and if we do not drastically change the way we do business, ultimately we are going to lose the war. It is as simple as that.
You have heard many times before this morning about the fact that just in the past 5 years, the State, the Federal Government and industry has incurred well over $250 million in control and eradication costs. The industry has lost upwards of $900 million in lost sales and while canker and Medfly are obviously two of the pests that garner most of the attention, there is a whole laundry list of other pests that our industry has been facingthrips palmi, sweetpotato whitefly, tomato yellow leaf curl virus, brown citrus aphid, citrus leaf miner, the list goes on and on. The causes for all of this are well documented and again, we have heard some of that here this morning.
Increased trade. Trade in fruits and vegetables coming into the United States has doubled since NAFTA has been put into place and the projection is that it will continue to double every 5 years for the foreseeable future. Tourism is at an all time high. We had 48 million visitors come into Florida last year. That is three times the population of the entire State coming in as visitors, either by airplane, through seaports or through highways.
As Chuck Schwalbe mentioned earlier, smuggling has also been identified as a major pathway of pests coming into not only Florida, but throughout the country. And as has been mentioned, the fines that APHIS has to try and control this type of smuggling is so insignificant as to be really nothing more than a cost of doing business for someone who would import a load of say longan from southeast Asia that might be worth $25,000 or $30,000a $500 fine is absolutely meaningless. All of these issues obviously combine to put the pressure on this industry that we are currently facing.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There have been two reports. One has been mentioned here numerous times this morning and I will not spend too much time on it, but back in 1997, as a result of a request from Congress, the General Accounting Office did a review of APHIS and looked extensively at their operations, both domestically and internationally and while it recognized the fact that Congress, in terms of total dollars, including user fees, had actually increased the dollars going to pest exclusion and detection and eradication activities, it certainly was not keeping pace with the tremendous increases that we have been seeing obviously in trade and in tourism coming into the United States. So obviously, I think we have got two reports that I think serve as a tremendous foundation for looking at some avenues to improve what we are doing, both at APHIS and at the State level.
The Safeguarding American Plant Resources report, I have to congratulate APHIS in working so cooperatively with the National Plant Board in putting all this together. This was really a joint effort of some interests up on Capitol Hill as well as within the Department of doing a complete review of everything it is doing in the plant safeguarding area. And I think it is an outstanding report. There are 307 recommendations in it that really cover the gamut of everything that APHIS does and I think if we start looking through that report working cooperatively with the industry, the State and APHIS as well as Congress in trying to get those recommendations implemented, I think we will go a long way towards attacking some of these issues.
Some of the solutions have been well documented here this morning and I think it just bears a little bit of repetition to go over them quickly. Certainly the implementation of the recommendations in the safeguarding report ought to be at the top of the list. And of course, number one among those recommendations is passage of the Plant Protection Act. Congressman Canady, you have been a tremendous leader in this issue. We have some industry issues that we need to resolve with it and we stand ready to work closely with you and your staff and the other members of the committee to try and get that done.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More resources are obviously needed. I would like to make a point of strongly advocating that all of the user fee dollars that are entitled to come into the agricultural quarantine and inspection program be appropriated and allocated to that program. We are losing millions of dollars on an annual basisI should not say millionshundreds of thousands of dollars potentially in lost revenues for that program that are not being appropriated. Public education, as Andy LaVigne mentioned, is extremely important. Quite frankly, if you go into countries like New Zealand and Australia and other countries that are extremely concerned about pests, they, quite frankly, do a better job than we do in notifying the public about the risks of importing or bringing contraband fruits and vegetables into the country.
Finally, industry support I think is necessary. We are working very closely with two of the national organizations right now to set up a plant safeguarding coalition that is designed to work with the Department of Agriculture, work with all of you up on Capitol Hill, as well as the industry around the country to try and implement some of these recommendations in the safeguarding report, get the Plant Protection Act passed and also get the much needed funding for APHIS for some of its interdiction activities.
My final point I would like to make this morning is that everyone has a stake in this issue. It is not just producers, it is not just the regulatory agencies. Consumers have a major stake in all of this, the environment is very much at play here and I think it is incumbent upon all of us to keep that in mind as we move forward. Winning this battle will require a stronger effort and I think it is going to need to be a cooperative effort among all of us.
Again, we appreciate your efforts and, Chairman Pombo, particularly appreciate your time and efforts in coming to Florida. Thank you.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stuart appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Taylor.
STATEMENT OF R.J. TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA TOMATO EXCHANGE
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought it appropriate that the red light is right in front of me. [Laughter.]
Being an actual farmer, being a tomato farmer, not a representative of tomato, even though that is what I am doing today, I can make mine extremely brief. My testimony has been prepared and handed in ahead of time, you have benefit of that.
I want to thank all three of you for being here and being interested. It is a very timely and important subject to be here on. I only wish the weather was better for Mr. Pombo to come and visit our State.
Mr. POMBO. This is not bad. You should be in Washington, DC right now.
Mr. TAYLOR. That is right.
I represent the Florida Tomato Exchange, which in fact represents, through the shippers of tomatoes across our State, all of the growers in the State of Florida for fresh market tomatoes, not processing tomatoes. We have been under the gun in the past few years, under a lot of different things, most notably NAFTA and the poor implementation of safeguards within that agreement that were designed to protect American farmers.
We are losing chemicals, crop protection chemicals, every year, to sunset that our competitors in foreign countries continue to use and then import their fruits and vegetables into the United States with no penalty.
So here we go with a whole other subject, invasive pests. Personally, I have operated my business under a Medfly quarantine, I have seen my spray bills go up as much as $400 an acre trying to combat the sweetpotato whitefly. Up in Mr. Boyd's neighborhood, up around Quincy, FL, in the past couple of years, it has been absolutely horrible.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I mean, Mr. Pombo, growing a crop of tomatoes out in your district is about $1,200. I have got a spray bill specifically for one pest of a quarter of that total cost of growing. So it is an extremely important subject.
A couple of things that we would like to point out. Mike Dunn, the Under Secretary for USDA, has admitted that this is a very serious problem, that we have increased risk of introducing agricultural pests into the United States, pests that could cost billions of dollars of harm to American agriculture.
Now we feel that one reason that this is occurring is that APHIS has changed to a new system of sorts. It is a systems approach and they are accepting a new level of risk, an acceptable level of risk. Now as a farmer, you know, we are big into IPM, integrated pest management. I know you are probably familiar with that, Mr. Chairman. And there are certain times and certain things where the only acceptable level of risk is zero tolerance. And as far as American agriculture is concerned, I think that is something that we have to look closely at, we have to look hard. The pressures that are on our citrus industry today with the citrus cankerthis gentleman you are going to hear from next is a horror storythere is no acceptable level of risk. You know, we have to put the resources and the attention there that needs to be.
We want to make sure to reiterate what other people have said and what I hope further panelists will say as well, in that we need to support Mr. Canady's bill before Congress in anything that we can do. And I volunteer our industry, anything that we can do to help prod that along and to get it through Congress and the Senate, we would be more than happy to do.
We understand that APHIS's counterparts here in Florida and other States are our first and our last line of defense and we can only go to you, the people with their hands on the pocketbook to make sure that they have the resources and the will to go out and do what is needed to be done to try to keep some of the farmers left in Florida in business.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I appreciate your interest. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Taylor appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF CRAIG WHEELING, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BROOKS TROPICALS, INC.
Mr. WHEELING. Yes, sir. My name is Craig Wheeling, I am CEO of Brooks Tropicals, we are a large domestic producer of tropical fruit, including limes and my family are also lime growers in a small way.
In summary, we are of course suffering from a rash of harmful pest infestations in Florida, the worse citrus canker is expected to cost over $200 million to eradicate. But that does not include all the costs of citrus canker. You have also got the cost of packing houses, lenders, farm employees, nurseries, grove owners. Furthermore, as reported in the January 16 Miami Herald, they estimated 1.8 million trees may have to be destroyed in south Florida to eradicate this thing. That would be an enormous loss to both the homeowners and to industry.
As a current updateand I am deviating a little bit from the written testimony because as we speak, things are changing in Dade County in terms of the lime industry. We are in our fifth year of a citrus quarantine in Dade County. Canker was first detected there in October of 1995 near Miami International Airport. The original 1995 quarantine area for Miami-Dade included 15 square miles with positive canker finds. Now that was back around October 1995. By October 1996, we had canker finds in 60 square miles. By November 1997, we had canker finds in 170 square miles. By February 1999, it had spread to 200 square miles in Dade County, and this does not include the spreads in the citrus industry outside of Dade County. By January of this year, almost 1,000 acres of lime groves had positive visual identifications for canker. So in 5 years as an industry we have seen nothing but growth in citrus canker in Dade County.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The problems have gotten so bad that the competition from cheap imports combined with the cost of dealing with invasive pestsand I agree with Mr. Taylor, the costs are really thereare causing many south Dade farmers to rethink whether they even want to grow any food crops in Dade County right now, especially as close as you are to Miami International Airport and other ports.
Based on our firm's experiences with invasive pests, we have six broad recommendations.
We believe a $50 million, no-year, Federal contingency account for emergency invasive plant pest response activities should be established.
Right now, if you are a farmer, when an invasive pest like canker is found, we know of no quick assured source of funding to ensure eradication. We think of these bacteria, pests, whatever, as a lot like cancer in humans. It is beneficial to go in early and aggressively at the first sign of the disease. However, currently farmers can be faced with a situation where they do not know what to spray, they do not know how to deal with them and they have also got to go through their lobbying organizations to push for appropriations. All this takes time. And it ends up resulting in higher levels of damage to society and costly eradication efforts.
Also, we believe that spending from this contingency account must include public education programs so that homeowners and industry do not inadvertently spread diseases like canker. Now human movement of citrus plants and equipment, including things like clothing and gloves, is one of the two major vectors for the spread of canker. The other, as was mentioned earlier, the Gotwald studiesis storms, and we have a lot of those in Dade County. After 5 years, we still do not have a quarantine boundary sign program educating citizens where the quarantine starts and stops, even after Miami-Dade County Commission has requested we get one. I do not understand that, but you have really got to educate the public not to move this stuff, because it could be on a plane to California, it could be up here, it could be in Fort Pierce, it could be in LaBelle, it could be anywhere.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The borders of the United States must be effectively protected. This goes without saying. As trade and tourism increases, we have got to effectively interdict invasive pests and this effort must be increased commensurately.
Federal tree insurance policies must be based on accurate estimates of the full cost of replacing the value of lost trees until they have grown to maturity.
Trade discussions must address the serious impact of invasive pests on border States like Florida and California.
Commercial growers who have been harmed during this canker outbreak should be reimbursed by the Federal Government for both tree and crop losses. The introduction and spread of the canker was not the growers' fault. It is an unfunded liability of increased trade and travel, and a lack and a failure of U.S. Government interdiction efforts.
The report that has been alluded to, ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources, A Stakeholder Review'' is an excellent report and recommendations in there should be carefully considered.
We believe also that there should be more effective inspections. The lime industry, the core area that was infected in about the geographic center of that, has a pummelo row. The pummelo row appears to me to be in a commercial citrus situation and I have been told by folks who are acquainted with the program, specifically, Dr. Rizve who is a plant pathologist with the eradication program, that that pummelo row has been infested for 1 to 3 years. Now of course, if you have a hurricane like Irene and spreads it around, you are going to have disastrous consequences and that is what we currently face down in Dade County right now.
It is hard to be optimistic in a month when a third of your industry is basically going to get destroyed. One point of optimism though is in this whole thing, I have worked with some awfully good, hard-working people at the State and Federal level in the trenches with the eradication program and with APHIS at the ports and I want to take this opportunity to thank all these people for their help. They really worked hard with not a huge amount of resources and I think with help and good work, we can solve these problems.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thanks again.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Wheeling appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HAROLD W. BROWNING, CENTER DIRECTOR, CITRUS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER
Mr. BROWNING. Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and subcommittee members, my name is Harold Browning and I am with the University of Florida. Several of my colleagues are here today and available as we get into the question session, to answer specific questions. I would also like to refer you to exhibits that are placed at the back of this room and in the lobby to further illustrate. And we will have some slides on the screen here as we move along, to just show some of the impacts of invasive species in Florida.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences thanks you for the opportunity you have provided here at our facilities to discuss and present information on a topic that is affecting all of America, the increased incidence of invasion by non-native plants, animals and disease organisms. We also would like to acknowledge the efforts of you and your colleagues to commit additional Federal resources to address this nationwide issue, which is particularly critical in the State of Florida, as we have heard today here.
The current reality is, as has been restated several times, that we do have an increased number of new pests, invasive plants and diseases and I would like to address the impact of that on University of Florida programs.
Under the circumstances of these new invaders, we must limit the impact that these invaders have by minimizing risk, the spread of risk, reducing competitive ability of the new organisms as they spread in Florida and to develop and implement measures to reduce, weaken or remove populations of the invading species. And this is to follow efforts at eradication and detection that have already been covered.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The University of Florida IFAS dedicates significant resources through its research, teaching and extension efforts to minimize the effects of exotic invaders on Florida agriculture and natural resources. The University of Florida conducts research and education programs across a broad arena which includes invasive species and animal health, pests and diseases of agricultural plants and wide-ranging impacts of exotic plants on agricultural, natural resources, public lands and the overall landscape of Florida and its citizens.
I would like to summarize some examples where the University of Florida is engaged in battling invasive species.
As you can see on the screen, exotic weed introductions, since there is a subtropical environment in Florida, seem endless. Their presence is felt across the State and into adjacent States.
Climbing fern has become a recognizable aspect of our landscape, while hydrilla chokes surface water bodies vital to the State's natural resources and tourism.
Melaleuca continues to defy previous expectations as it overtakes unique national park habitat.
These plants have been established for years, yet their effects continue to expand as the plants spread. Add to these a long list of additional species of invasive plants and it is easy to see why native flora is being replaced with aggressive, invasive species. And these seem to be beyond our scope of containment.
The University of Florida IFAS programs are aimed at mitigating the disruptive effects of expanding invasive plant populations and developing economical and practical solutions to these problems. Our Center for Aquatic Plants is focused specifically on invasive plant research and education.
Similarly, Florida has, in recent decades, been inundated with new pest and disease invaders. Citrus tristeza virus spread and injury has been exacerbated by the introduction of an effective vector, brown citrus aphid, and tree death from virus decline is accelerating as susceptible root stocks are infected.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Programs aimed at countering this, the largest known plant virus, are being pursued cooperatively by the University of Florida, USDA and allied agencies and industry groups. Development of resistance to infection by CTV is being pursued as a long-term goal while short-term measures are being developed which rely on enhanced understanding of virus host plant biology and relationships.
Similarly, UF IFAS has stepped up cooperative research and education programs on citrus canker to assist citrus producers and Florida residents in responding to citrus canker outbreaks. While tree removal and burning continues to be the primary tool employed to combat canker, researchers are evaluating chemicals which hold promise in reducing the rate of spread from tree to tree. Genetics research coupled with plant improvement methodologies are being used to determine the possibilities of creating a citrus plant which is immune to canker and thus would not be a carrier of the canker bacterium. Some of this research is long-term and it focuses on permanent alternatives to fighting recurrent introductions of citrus canker from other citrus production areas.
Diaprepes weevil, an insect invader in Florida citrus, is also being addressed by an inter-disciplinary team of scientists belonging to the University of Florida, USDA and State Department of Agriculture. Evaluation of biological control organisms that can attack eggs and larval weevils in the soil are being blended with cultural operations such as irrigation and fertilization and the limited chemical pesticidal options to deliver a management program that is effective and affordable. Tree death due to diaprepes infestation is increasing, despite these efforts.
In another arena, a serious threat to American livestock production exists in the form of larger than life African ticks which are hitch-hiking into Florida on imports of reptiles and other animals in the pet trade. Ticks routinely are intercepted on lizards, snakes and turtles shipped into Florida and associated organisms known to cause heartwater disease in cattle have also been detected.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would also like to state at this point that we have added some updated testimony to our written documents that are available and you will have copies of those.
Not only are Florida's livestock at risk, but native wildlife species are susceptible to attack as the tick and its disease agent are discovered in the State. Extensive efforts at University of Florida are underway to provide improved detection and diagnosis as well as educational efforts to reduce accidental introduction of this devastating disease into the United States. Efforts also are directed at managing the injury caused by exotic livestock pests such as the African ticks.
Mr. Chairman, aggressive research and education programs are vital to combatting invasive species and the University of Florida IFAS pledges, with your help, to continue applying our collective resources and expertise to these problems. It will take tremendous additional discovery, technology development and educational efforts to reverse the current trend towards increasing invasive species problems. This will not be possible without substantial commitment and investment by agricultural, business and government leaders. Much of IFAS funding is currently being redirected from other priority programs to address these issues.
The infrastructure is in place through the T STAR program to expand public funding to specifically address research on invasive species and we encourage your support and further consideration of these initiatives.
Thank you for this opportunity and we are prepared to respond to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Browning appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Before we go to the next gentleman, can you explain this?
Mr. BROWNING. Yes, this is a picture of the African tick. On the right is the immature form, above the coin is the adult female and to the left is the fully engorged female after a blood meal on a host animal. That is a very large tick.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. POMBO. Yes. [Laughter.]
Mr. BROWNING. In fact, this is even larger than the ticks in Texas, I think. [Laughter.]
Mr. POMBO. I am sure they think they can beat you.
Mr. BOYD. This is the African heartwater tick that has just been discovered within the last month or two at a port where?
Mr. BROWNING. It has been intercepted numerous times recently, and if I may, I would like to refer to my colleagues in the vet school to answer specific questions on this tick.
Mr. POMBO. We will get it when we go to the questions.
STATEMENT OF LINDSAY RALEY, POLK COUNTY FARM BUREAU
Mr. RALEY. Good morning. I would like to welcome you here to Polk County and thank you for giving us the opportunity to testify at these hearings. My name is Lindsay Raley I am vice-president of operations for Thelma C. Raley, Inc., a family citrus grove company that operates in the three central Florida counties of Polk, Highlands and Hardee. I am also president of Polk County Farm Bureau, whose members include nearly 1,000 active farmers, growers and ranchers.
As a citrus grower and industry representative, I can honestly say that never before have pests and disease outbreaks posed a greater threat to my business and my industry than now. As some folks have already reiterated this morning, we have had two major Mediterranean fruit fly infestations and a citrus canker outbreak that have come dangerously close to my groves and my fellow Farm Bureau members' groves.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It does not get much worse than Medfly or canker when you are growing oranges, grapefruits and tangerines for the fresh market, which is where most of my fruit goes.
The quarantine guidelines alone are costly and cumbersome. For Medfly, we are required to spend hundreds of dollars to tarp our trucks and to treat our fruit if we want to ship it. For canker, it costs thousands of dollars to decontaminate our grove equipment and workers if we want to help stop the spread of the disease. And that is if we are lucky enough to keep our fruit.
A Medfly infestation the size of the ones that we had in 1997 and 1998 could quickly infest a fruit-laden grove. A canker outbreak of the aggressive strain we are currently battling would quickly spread its lesions to fruit throughout a citrus producing region. And groves do not even have to be diseased to be destroyed to eradicate canker. New guidelines have that trees within 1900 feet of diseased trees must also be destroyed.
With canker finds just 4 miles from our county line here in Polk, we face the very real possibility that some of our trees may become diseased or exposed and have to be destroyed as a result. Such a development would have an economic ripple effect throughout our county.
Because the production of food and fiber is Polk's largest industry and citrus is Polk's largest crop, a reduction in the 40 million boxes of citrus Polk grows each year would result in the loss of thousands of jobs. Polk's citrus industry employs 23,000 people, half the number of people Disney employs statewide. Polk's citrus industry also generates an annual economic impact of nearly $2 billion and Polk processes into juice more citrus than any other county in the nation. Citrus is big business in Polk County.
Any malady that poses a threat to it is serious, because citrus growers are not the only ones who will suffer. That is why we need your help in conjunction with our State leaders. We need your support when it comes time to seek funding to improve and expand the interdiction methods used at our ports of entry to prevent non-endemic pests and diseases from crossing our borders. And we will need your support when it comes time to pay for the costly programs used to eradicate these pests and diseases like citrus canker, once they arrive.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because the responsibility for safeguarding our home grown commodities from the ravages of non-native pests and diseases lies with our Federal Government, we are calling on you, our representatives, to help us before and after these emergencies occur, to help protect the nation's food supply and us, the nation's food producers.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify here this morning and I will be pleased to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Raley appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. POMBO. Thank you. I thank the panel for their testimony.
You know, one of the things that strikes me as I listen to this is that there are certain things that you all believe that we need to do to quickly try to attack this problem when there is an outbreak of a particular pest in a county or in a specific grove, that we need to respond quickly to that. And obviously that is very, very difficult to do. But as I have watched over the last few years with the increase in trade, the increase in people that come in, the threat to the crop protection methods that are being used through the Food Quality Protection Act and some other things that are being done for dubious reasons, I would like to ask you where do you see the future going with this? If you are losing crop protection methods, if we are continuing to open the border to bring in more produce, more fruit, into your market, it is obviously a higher risk and obviously the State of Florida by itself, nor the State of California by itself, has the ability to keep out these products from coming into your State, nor do you have the ability to develop and use crop production chemicals to protect yourselves.
Do any of you have an idea of what the solution may be? I know you are going to point right back up here, but we are looking for some ideas.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, since the implementation of NAFTA, I hate to say, but I can go to Washington now and I know where to go. I mean I do not feel like a stranger certainly in the halls of Congress any longer. And agriculturalists across the country are going to have to become more politically acute, they are going to have to become more involved if we are going to have agriculture, especially our kind, the specialty crops, in the future in this country.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But beyond that, I think that the politicians that represent us and consumers across the country are going to have to make up their mind whether or not we are going to have specialty crops in this country, and if we are, then we need to do what it takes to protect them. If not, we are giving up probably what I would believe to be the only industry beyond oil to be classified as the most strategic for any country's welfare, and that is the ability to supply their citizens with a safe and wholesome supply of food.
Now if we as a country have the political will, we can solve that problem. But we are going to have to decide whether or not we are going to have a safe and wholesome supply of food in the future produced in this country.
Mr. POMBO. I am glad to hear you say that. You know, I am here at the insistence and persistence of Congressman Canady, who on a daily basis let me know how important this issue was to Florida. But your involvement has to go beyond this. I like to do field hearings, I like to go out and talk to the people who actually work for a living. I enjoy doing that, because we get a different perspective on what the problems are and what the solutions are by doing field hearings than we do if we only do hearings in Washington.
But at the same time, your involvementthis just happens to be today's New York Times and this was given to me this morning. It is an ad that was taken out in the New York Times, and for those of you that have advertised before, you know that a full page ad like this would cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Three ways industrial food makes you sick. Industrialized agriculture puts animals in concentration camps where they become crazy and diseased. It puts chemicals on our vegetables and fruit. It slips bacteria genes into our lettuce and biotech growth hormones into our milk without telling us. Then we serve it all to our kids for dinner.
This is a full page ad in the New York Times that everybody in New York that got up this morning and read the paper was exposed to this. And you have got to knowespecially in a State like Florida, you have to know that the majority of people think food comes from the grocery store. They have no clue, concept of what it takes to get it from the farm to the grocery store. And as long as there is food in the store, they do not care.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now you have got all these peopleand this is a national paper, this is not just in New Yorkwho have no clue about agriculture, no clue about the fights that all of you go through every single day, they have no concept of what invasive pests are, who are now being told this garbage and they believe it.
Recently I had the opportunity, I was in Africa and we toured a facility there and we talked to the biologists that were there and they talked about their Cape buffalo population, their bovine population was infested with everything from anthrax to brucellosis, I mean just a whole list of stuff that they had, things that we have been trying to keep out of our bovine population in the United States. And as we were leaving there, those of us that have agriculture backgrounds started wondering about getting some bleach and washing our shoes off before we got back on the plane to go home. And that was because of our own personal experiences. How many thousands of tourists walk through that place every day, get on a plane and come home. And what are they being told about the possibility of spreading those diseases into our populations in this country?
So we have got a long ways to go, we have got a lot of things that we need to do. And stuff like this just makes it that much harder for us to do our job and for you to do your job.
I have got two great Congressmen sitting up here with me who fight with me on all this stuff, but we cannot do it by ourselves. We need a lot of help.
Mr. STUART. Mr. Chairman, I think you are exactly right, and I think following up on your statement on the ad, the same people that read that and believe it though are the same ones that would walk into the grocery store 6 months later when the price of food increased two or three times in order to avoid that type of thing, they would be the first ones to raise holy hell on it too. So they want to have their cake and eat it too, and quite frankly, they are not going to be able to do it. So it is an issue we are going to have to deal with.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But you hit on something that I think is important from the exclusion standpoint. You know, quite frankly, I think we are very defensive, for the most part, in our posture on invasive pests and I think this is one of the recommendations in the safeguarding report that I think we are going to need to spend some time on. We need to go out beyond the United States and go out into countries that are known to be significant problem areas, whether it is in Africa, the Caribbean, southeast Asia or wherever the problem happens to lie for some of these major invasive pests, and work with those governments to try and reduce the populations there because quite frankly, trying to do it here is like the little boy in Holland with his finger in the dike. I mean there is just so long you are going to be able to keep the wolves at bay and then you are going to have a problem at our hands. So we have got to get out beyond our shores and work on some of these issues.
Some of those recommendations were contained in the safeguarding report, and again, that is why I think we need to spend some time and make sure those get implemented.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to thank all the members of this panel for their testimony. I think it has been very enlightening for the subcommittee. It just emphasizes the magnitude of the challenge we face and the level of commitment that is going to be required, both at the Federal and State level, to accomplish what needs to be done.
I want to pick up on what Mr. Boydthe line of questioning he had in the last panel concerning the action plan for citrus canker, to see if there are any specific suggestions that any of you have concerning modifications to the way we are going about dealing with citrus canker now over and above the comments that have already been made.
I just open that up. I know that this has been a well thought out plan and this is not just something that was cobbled together, but I think we do have to learn from experiences, the experience in south Florida, and re-evaluate where we are and where we go from here now.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LaVigne.
Mr. LAVIGNE. Congressman Canady, I think there are several things that are going on here with canker. One of the main things is we have some great scientists doing some work on canker, given the devastating nature of the disease for the industry, not only oranges and grapefruit, but as well as the lime industry that is experiencing it in south Florida.
There has to be some public communications out there. And if we take it outside of the citrus canker issue, much like my comments dealing with Mediterranean fruit fly over the two infestations we have had over the last 3 years, the public education process has to be there and we have to continue to push to make this a science-based process in the eradication but also a swift and effective process. A lot of times we get the science in there and all of a sudden we get politics and science muddled together and all you get there is an extended process. If we cannot get the science in there as quickly as possible and take necessary steps as quickly as possible, it just continues to spread and we cannot get it quickly. So the public relations process has to be increased as dramatically as possible.
Mr. CANADY. Mr. Wheeling.
Mr. WHEELING. At the risk of being redundant, you do have to go right in right away. It is very difficult to ask homeowners and nurseries in an infected area to put up with a quarantine for many years. I think it is politically tough to do that also. I would also second Mr. LaVigne's response that you really need to push hard at informing the public. There have been numerous instances where canker has been spread outside the quarantine area by movement of citrus materials or equipment used on citrus. And you cannot really blame the public if they have not been adequately informed of that. We still have a long way to go, I believe, in this eradication effort in informing the public.
Mr. CANADY. Thank you very much. Again, I want to express my gratitude to Chairman Pombo for convening this hearing here today and for his leadership on these issues in the Congress.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are going to do everything we can to move forward with the Plant Protection Act. That is certainly one of my priorities for my last year in the Congress. Although that certainly will not solve all our problems by any means, it is a step forward in giving the Department the tools that they need to do a more effective job in preventing the introduction of the invasive species.
So I appreciate the opportunityI appreciate the support for that and the opportunity to continue working with many of you who are here today in that legislative endeavor.
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Boyd.
Mr. BOYD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have got a couple of questions. But before I do, I want to thank all of you. It is nice, it is great to have all these heavy weights representing almost every segment of Florida agriculture. Mr. Loop, we are going to let you represent some of the north part, traditional agricultural crops that we do not grow down here.
But to thank also Jay Taylor. You brought up something that I have a chance to talk about a lot when I am talking to my city friends. You talked about the importance of our industry for the whole Nation and you compared it, I think, to the oil industry.
Part of our job in Congresswe represent rural areas, but most of Congress is urban and a lot of my time and our time is spent speaking to our friends from Los Angeles and Chicago and New York, helping them understand that a strong agricultural economy truly is a national security issue. And I thank you for highlighting that for us in your presentation.
Dr. Browning, back to the African heartwater thing. I represent an area, and all of these guys do too, that have a good bit of cattle, livestock industry, and I know that you promised us either some of your veterinary school folks or maybe Dr. Roberts still has some of her folks here that could answer a couple of questions for the committee specifically about what we have here and what we are doing.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROWNING. Thank you, Congressman Boyd. With me today is Dr. Michael Burridge and also Dr. Joseph DePietro with the School of Veterinary Medicine, who are both very much involved in this African tick heartwater situation. So I would certainly ask them if they could come forward and maybe at the podium make some responses to specific questions or enlighten you more about the general situation with these ticks.
Mr. POMBO. If they could join us at the podium, please.
Mr. BOYD. I guess the specific question isthis has been discovered or detected previously in our ports and again just recently, I understand?
Mr. DEPIETRO. Thank you, Congressman Boyd. My name is Joe DePietro, I am Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida. I have with me today a gentleman who is probably singularly the world's authority on this disease, who happens to be a distinguished faculty member in my college, Dr. Michael Burridge. I would defer comment to Dr. Burridge in regard to your questions because he can more amply answer them, I am sure.
Mr. BURRIDGE. Is it possible to put that slide of the ticks back on? It will help
Mr. POMBO. You have got to ask somebody that knows. [Laughter.]
Mr. BOYD. While we are doing that, Mr. Chairman, if I mightyou know, we talked about a lot of different kinds of pests, but when we have outbreak of pests, we have certain pests that will destroy industries. Others that are problematic for us, but we have ways of dealing with them. But there are certain pests that we do not have any way of dealing with other than to just get rid of it, not have it, because it will destroy an industry, and I think this sort of fits in that category.
Mr. BURRIDGE. We took this slide, this tick here is the tick you are all familiar with. This is the deer tick that transmits Lyme Disease in the United States. We put that on to show you what a typical American tick looks like. That is the African tortoise tick. These are both unfed adults. Look at the difference in size, and that is what the African tortoise tick gets to in size, it is the biggest of all ticks, when it is fed.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have one in this bottle, taken from Hillsborough County. My question is do you want that to become a part of our fauna? This tick will feed on just about everything that moves, not only reptiles. The small ones are unfed adults, the big one is a fed adult. And these are not exceptions.
Now the importance of this tick is that this is an experimental vector of heartwater. Another tick that looks almost identical, called the large reptile tick that also feeds on buffalo, that was the tick that we found the end of last year to be infected with the organism in a reptile importer in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Let me just say one other thing. You were talking about the Chinese trade delegation. Some of these reptile breeders are also re-exporters, that means they bring them in and they quickly turn them around and export them. That same individual where we found these ticks re-exports to Japan. Are we sending these to Japan? I do not know, but the obvious implications are there.
This is a classic situation to me where we can do two things to improve our regulations which are almost non-existent at the moment for checking reptiles for ticks by a procedure of finding a pesticide that works well on them. We have been working on that. And then automatically treating them all before they are disseminated within the United States. And secondly, we have got to look for already the infestations here and eradicate them before they become established on our own animals.
And in the southeastern United States is a perfect climate for these ticks to thrive. We have already found a breeding colony of this tick in central Florida, right down the road from here.
Any other questions?
Mr. BOYD. Dr. Roberts, did you have something to add?
Ms. ROBERTS. One thing I wanted to point out is the terrible conflict we have on this in that Commissioner Crawford had asked U.S. Secretary Glickman for the last 2 or 3 years to try to prevent the importation of these reptiles merely to find out that USDA says that they do not have any jurisdiction over them, that it is under U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. And so as such, you know, we have the flood of these exotic pets coming in contaminated with these ticks.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And also, another point that I hope has been made is this will decimate our wildlife. All the deer population and the hunting leases and everything that we have on the agricultural land now.
We just have had known international incidents on this. We do know that some of these were transshipped back to Japan contaminated with ticks. Plus we had a situation that a whole shipment of tortoises came into the New York airport, they were seized by U.S. Fish & Wildlife because some of them were packed improperly and some of them were dying. They sent them to Florida to rehabilitate them and had it not been for our university scientists letting us know that they were here in Florida, we would have never known that they were here. And Chairman Pombo, part of them went to California also.
Mr. POMBO. These things?
Ms. ROBERTS. Yes. [Laughter.]
So, you know, we have this horrible Federal conflict where we have another Federal agency that has the responsibility over the importation of exotic wildlife and we are trying to impress upon them the critical nature that that wildlife can be to U.S. agriculture.
Mr. BOYD. And that agency does not have the tools or the resources or the capacity that it needs to deal with this issue.
Ms. ROBERTS. Nor are they interested in it because, as Dr. Burridge says, they have no mandate on protection.
And the whole situation is very similar to the whole situation we have with canker, the various comments that you have had on the need for public information, the need to educate the public about this. And there is absolutely no funding for public education and public information. In fact, we continue to be criticized if we ever get into that realmwhy are you spending your budgets on public education. There is no budget for a whole public education process on ticks or canker or any of these issues, regrettably. And that is one of the greatest needs, we agree with you.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOYD. I think you got the chairman's attention and I appreciate that. [Laughter.]
I had some other questions, Mr. Chairman, but in the interest of time and catching planes, I understand we had better cut those short.
Mr. POMBO. Thank you. I will have to talk to you about this afterwards. Where exactly in California did you send those? [Laughter.]
Ms. ROBERTS. Sir, it was U.S. Fish & Wildlife that sent them, not us.
Mr. POMBO. Well, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is the same agency that is spending millions of dollars protecting endangered flies in California, so to have them interested in killing ticks, I do not know if it is the right agency. [Laughter.]
But I want to thank the panel for your testimony.
There may be or there probably will be additional questions that will be given to you in writing. I will keep the hearing record open to give you sufficient time to answer those questions. I know I had additional questions and Congressman Boyd had additional questions that he would like to ask, and those will be given to you in writing and if you could answer those in a timely manner for the committee so that we can close out the official record of this hearing.
I would also like to say to those of you that are in the audience, any of you that would like to submit written testimony to the hearing, I will keep the hearing record open for you to have the opportunity to do that.
Obviously we are here today talking about the future of agriculture, the future of agriculture in the State of Florida, in the United States as a whole, and our ability to continue to produce food and fiber to feed the American people and clothe the American people and for the entire world. The production that comes out of this area is extremely important. It is important to your economy here, it is important to the economy of the United States, and these are probably some of the toughest issues that we will have to deal with.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We intend on moving Mr. Canady's bill, H.R. 1504, as quickly as we possibly can. I have told Congressman Canady that that will be a priority to move that through committee as quickly as we possibly can and get it onto the House floor and then hopefully move it to the President's desk as quickly as we possibly can. That is something that we want to accomplish as fast as we can.
I thank all of you for coming today, I thank all of the audience for being here. Hopefully we can move this ball forward and have some successes so the next time we come down here we can talk about some of the successes that we have been able to achieve.
But thank you all for being here and we are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:25 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Testimony of Charles P. Schwalbe
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you for this opportunity to appear today. I am very pleased to offer my testimony on the threat that invasive species pose to our Nation's agricultural resources and on the activities that the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts to prevent invasive species from becoming established in the United States.
Invasive species are nonindigenous organisms that cause, or are likely to cause, harm to the economy, the environment, plant and animal health, or public health if introduced into the country. Organisms considered to be invasive species can include terrestrial or aquatic plants, animals, and disease agents. Several invasive species have factored prominently in the news lately including, among others, Asian longhorned beetle, plum pox virus, West Nile virus, and Asian fishhook flea in the Great Lakes. Here in Florida, invasive species such as the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), citrus canker, and the melaleuca tree have become well known threats to the State's agricultural and environmental resources. The estimated economic harm to the United States from these biological invaders runs in the tens of billions of dollars and may exceed $120 billion annually.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Problems associated with invasive species are national in scope and are becoming more and more widespread. For instance, conservation experts have found that invasive plant infestations cover about 100 million acres of land throughout the United States. An average of 3 million acres are estimated to be lost to invasive plants each year. This constitutes an area twice the size of Delaware.
While the United States faces an ever-increasing challenge in managing invasive species that are currently thriving across our Nation, preventing the introduction of new invasive species also has become more challenging in today's global environment. Worldwide opportunities for international commerce and travel have reached unprecedented levels. Unfortunately, this global activity has increased greatly the number of pathways for the movement and introduction of foreign, invasive agricultural pests and diseases.
USDA, or more specifically the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an Agency under USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission area, historically has worked hard to safeguard American agricultural resources and prevent damage to our natural ecosystems from the introduction and establishment of those invasive species that threaten the health and vitality of domestic plants and animals. In fact, as reflected by the Agency's name, this is APHIS' core mission.
In fulfilling this mission, APHIS ensures that U.S. agricultural resources remain healthy and productive. In addition, APHIS facilitates trade by ensuring that both U.S. agricultural products
exported throughout the world and foreign agricultural imports are free of plant and animal pests and diseases. This is a mission that benefits farmers and consumers at home and abroad.
Through its Plant Protection and Quarantine, Veterinary Services, International Services, and Wildlife Services programs, APHIS is one of about 20 Federal agencies that deal with invasive species. These units, and their activities, contribute to APHIS' overall strategy to protect the United States from these invaders.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC APHIS currently is involved in several efforts to improve its future capabilities in this regard, and we welcome President Clinton's Executive Order 13112 establishing the National Invasive Species Council to coordinate a national effort to combat invasive species. The National Invasive Species Council has been charged with issuing the first edition of a National Invasive Species Management Plan by August 3, 2000. This plan will detail and recommend performance-oriented goals and objectives and specific measures of success for Federal efforts concerning invasive species.
Because there are also many State agencies and private organizations that deal with these species, the Council has established an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The committee is comprised of State, tribal, and local government representatives as well as academic institutions; the scientific community; agricultural, environmental, and conservation organizations; trade groups; commercial interests; and private landowners.
The APHIS strategy emphasizes the use of prevention, preparation, response, and recovery measures integrated into a comprehensive safeguarding system that achieves maximum effect in reducing the risk of the introduction of harmful, invasive organisms. APHIS relies heavily on its ability to prevent the entry of foreign pests and diseases as a critical component of safeguarding U.S. plant and animal health. Accordingly, APHIS has developed exclusion measures that encompass a broad range of activities; among them are conducting pest and disease risk assessments on foreign commodities, establishing preclearance programs to ensure agricultural imports are free of exotic pests and diseases before being shipped from their country of origin to the United States, mandatory quarantine and treatment of specified commodity imports, and inspection of passenger and cargo traffic at U.S. ports-of-entry for plant and animal pests and diseases.
The risk assessment process is the primary method used to determine what invasive species threaten U.S. plant and animal health and how this threat is manifested. Scientifically based methods of risk assessment allow APHIS biological experts to make informed decisions regarding the potential pest or disease risks associated with commodities from specific regions of the world. Import permits are granted or denied accordingly.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To ensure that potential risks identified with the importation of foreign agricultural plant products are sufficiently mitigated, APHIS requires shipments of approved commodities to be accompanied by official sanitary or phytosanitary certification indicating that any pest and disease risk has been sufficiently mitigated. APHIS also requires that certain approved commodities undergo and pass preclearance inspection before being shipped to the United States. APHIS often requires commodities to undergo sanitary or phytosanitary treatments-such as fumigation or temperature treatments-and/or mandatory quarantine prior to being allowed entry into the United States.
At all U.S. international airports, seaports, and border crossings, APHIS maintains Plant Protection and Quarantine personnel who are specifically trained to inspect aircraft, vehicles, and vessels; passenger and crew baggage; commercial cargo; and mail. Our inspectors use x-ray machines to search for possible prohibited agricultural items inside passenger and crew baggage. Also, at certain high volume airports and border stations, our inspectors use specially trained beagles to detect the presence of prohibited agricultural products in travelers' baggage.
Although Plant Protection and Quarantine personnel at ports-of-entry are on the lookout for both prohibited plant and animal products, APHIS' Veterinary Services program conducts many additional preventive activities to exclude invasive species from the United States. At certain U.S. ports-of-entry, Veterinary Services personnel inspect shipments of live animals and animal products for possible pests or diseases. Veterinary Services also has personnel who patrol the U.S./Mexican border on horseback to interdict livestock that could potentially carry exotic tick-borne diseases into the United States.
Other preventive activities conducted by APHIS involve International Services personnel who help foreign governments conduct their own invasive species eradication activities, thus reducing the risk of introduction into the United States. Also, Wildlife Services conducts an important program to keep the harmful, invasive brown tree snake from spreading from the U.S. Island of Guam to Hawaii and other States. These snakes have caused the dramatic decline of many of Guam's native wildlife species, are responsible for economic losses from property damage and service disruptions, and are hazards to human safety. Wildlife Services works with officials from Guam and the U.S. Department of Defense on programs to inspect aircraft and cargo for hitchhiking snakes, construct barriers to limit the snakes' movement, and develop lethal and nonlethal control tools to employ against snake populations.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, under the Federal Plant Pest Act and the Federal Noxious Weed Act, APHIS prevents the introduction and spread of plant and environmental pests through its agricultural quarantine and inspection programs. To prevent the entry of unwanted pests, APHIS issues permits to enable the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain species for legitimate education, research, and commerce purposes.
As a whole, APHIS' pest and disease exclusion activities have proven very effective in preventing the establishment of harmful and exotic invasive species in our country. For instance, in fiscal year 1998, APHIS agricultural preclearance and port-of-entry inspectors intercepted nearly 2 million potentially damaging plant and animal products from international mail, cargo shipments, and airline passengers and crew members. More than 52,000 of those interceptions carried potentially harmful pests or diseases. Nevertheless, despite APHIS' extensive efforts to prevent the introduction of harmful invasive organisms, occasional outbreaks of exotic plant and animal pests and diseases occur.
APHIS' highly trained and nationally organized workforce is prepared to work with their State counterparts and industry at a moments notice in the event of a pest or disease outbreak. Plant Protection and Quarantine and Veterinary Services maintain offices in almost every State of the Union. Local APHIS personnel maintain close contacts with State agricultural agencies and industries. In addition, APHIS personnel participate in, and often conduct, training seminars on exotic animal and plant pests and diseases with their State counterparts, industry representatives, and university experts.
APHIS uses its national field force and cooperators to help monitor for invasive plant and animal pest or disease outbreaks. Memorandums of understanding with each of our 50 States and other Federal agencies ensure cooperation in invasive pest or disease emergency situations.
APHIS has specific emergency response guidelines for many of the invasive plant and animal pests or diseases that are most likely to enter the United States. To ensure maximum speed and effectiveness, APHIS has divided the United States into geographic regions for the purpose of foreign pest and disease control and eradication. Plant Protection and Quarantine Rapid Response Teams and Veterinary Services Regional Emergency Animal Disease Eradication Organization ''READEO'' units are maintained in each region. These units act as independent
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCpest and disease eradication forces and manage Federal, State, and industry cooperative efforts to eradicate emergency pest and disease outbreaks.
Rapid Response and READEO team members are highly trained and ready to fight exotic pests, diseases agents, and parasites anywhere in the United States. Rapid Response Team personnel conduct surveys and contact local officials, growers, and industry organizations. They also take samples to monitor environmental impacts and establish central locations for emergency operations. READEO personnel confirm the presence of exotic diseases, inspect infected and exposed animals, appraise the value of the affected animals, and coordinate humane euthanasia and safe carcass disposal activities.
To better coordinate its emergency pest or disease eradication efforts, APHIS is currently developing a world class emergency management operations center that will provide daily incident monitoring and ensure preparedness and rapid response in the face of any national plant or animal health emergency. This Center will be equipped with the latest technology designed for information gathering, decisionmaking, and information dissemination. In the absence of a plant or animal health emergency, the Center will be used for training personnel and day-to-day monitoring operations.
Once an outbreak of a harmful invasive organism is eradicated, APHIS stands ready to assist affected communities as appropriate in recovering from its impact. Recovery activities could include livestock carcass disposal, preventive sterile insect release programs, and enhanced pest or disease monitoring. Most important of all, to ensure that a reinfestation or reinfection of an invasive species does not occur, APHIS reassesses the circumstances and strives to enhance its exclusion activities to ensure that the organism is stopped at the U.S. border in the future.
APHIS has demonstrated the safeguarding system's effectiveness in several recent exotic invasive species outbreaks. When an outbreak of Medflies, one of the most devastating known agricultural pests affecting more than 200 different species of plants, was detected in May 1997 in Florida, it was our ability to coordinate a rapid response with State officials that avoided potential disaster. Immediately following this detection, APHIS joined State and local counterparts in a large-scale eradication effort. APHIS officials established quarantine areas and restricted the interstate movement of regulated articles from those areas. And, in cooperation with the State of Florida, APHIS activated an onsite emergency response team to conduct trapping and treatment of infested areas.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Due to this effort, APHIS lifted all Florida Medfly quarantines in the fall of 1998. If APHIS and Florida officials had failed to prevent the establishment of Medflies, Florida's $6 billion citrus industry would have been severely jeopardized and the State's economy could have incurred an estimated loss of $300 million.
Currently, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in cooperation with State and local officials, has several ongoing eradication programs against harmful, invasive plant species including, among others, citrus canker here in Florida, Mexican fruit fly and pink hibiscus mealybug in California, Asian longhorned beetle in Illinois and New York, Karnal bunt in Arizona, and plum pox virus in Pennsylvania.
Unlike Plant Protection and Quarantine, which has had to respond to a string of emergency pest and disease outbreaks in recent years, Veterinary Services has been fortunate in that no major animal pest or disease outbreak has occurred in our country since 1983, when an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in commercial poultry resulted in the destruction of more than 17 million birds and cost nearly $65 million to eradicate. However, in 1996, Veterinary Services responded to an outbreak of low pathogenic avian influenza in Pennsylvania. APHIS cooperated with State officials to swiftly impose quarantines and destroy contaminated flocks. This quick response averted disaster in the form of lost markets and eradication expenses.
More recently, Veterinary Services has responded to outbreaks of West Nile virus among horses in New York and is working with Florida to develop a protocol for eradicating exotic Amblyomma sparsum ticks. These ticks are vectors for heartwater, an acute, tick-borne disease of domestic and wildlife ruminantsincluding antelope, cattle, deer, goats, and sheepfound primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Veterinary Services is establishing a working group to develop treatment and biosecurity protocols for tick vectors that spread heartwater for use at APHIS' animal import centers in Los Angeles, California; Newburg, New York; and Miami, Florida. The heartwater agent does not affect humans; however, if it were to enter the United States, mortality rates in susceptible infected species could range from 40 to 80 percent.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While APHIS' record in preventing the introduction or establishment of harmful agricultural invasive species is noteworthy, we clearly recognize that the system APHIS uses to safeguard U.S. resources, especially agricultural resources, is stressed and in need of improvements. This fact is highlighted by the repeated assaults made on our Nation by invasive species such as Medflies in California and Florida, citrus canker in Florida, and Asian longhorned beetle in Illinois and New York. APHIS has and will continue to address such threats by proactive exclusionary efforts. One example of these proactive efforts involves APHIS' September 1998 publication of an interim rule banning the entry of untreated solid wood packing materials from the Peoples Republic of China and Hong Kongthe probable source of the Asian longhorned beetle introductionsinto the United States. Also, in January 1999, APHIS officials published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit public suggestions regarding additional regulatory action concerning solid wood packing materials.
In an effort to improve its ability to safeguard U.S. resources from invasive species, APHIS contracted with the National Plant Board to conduct a thorough review of all aspects of our safeguarding system. The review group, which was comprised of State, industry, and university representatives, reviewed APHIS' pest exclusion efforts, international pest information systems, pest permits, and detection and response efforts. After concluding its review, the group made approximately 300 recommendations that they believe will assist APHIS in adapting its safeguarding efforts to better manage drastic increases expected in trade and international travel. These recommendations are being analyzed thoroughly by APHIS officials and implementation strategies are being developed.
There is also a legislative proposal referred to as the Plant Protection Act that would help to streamline and modernize APHIS' existing statutory authorities regarding invasive species exclusion activities. Early in the 106th Congress, this legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 1504 and in the U.S. Senate as S. 910. If passed by Congress, this legislation would consolidate eleven existing pest exclusion statutes into one comprehensive law and eliminate authority gaps and outdated and ambiguous provisions. In addition, it would establish effective deterrents against trafficking in prohibited plant and plant pest species by increasing monetary penalties for smuggling; providing a comprehensive set of investigatory tools; ensuring transparency for U.S. trading partners; and recognizing the benefits of new technologies such as biological control organisms. USDA supports enactment of the legislation and urges the Committee to codify the whole of section 2 of Executive Order 13112.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As mentioned before, aquatic invasive species also pose a threat to the United States, including the U.S. aquaculture industry. The animal quarantine laws that authorize APHIS' animal health programs apply to livestock and poultry. Last year the American Farm Bureau Federation submitted a petition requesting that USDA consider domesticated farm-raised fish as livestock. In response, we published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register concerning whether USDA should consider farm-raised fin fish as livestock under the animal quarantine laws for the purpose of providing farm-raised fin fish programmatic and regulatory protections against invasive species and other health threats similar to those that apply to other livestock. The advance notice also addressed the potential establishment of national programs and regulations to assist aquaculture producers in meeting international trade requirements and encourage international trade in U.S. aquaculture products. APHIS is evaluating numerous public comments received on this notice.
APHIS is currently reviewing the availability of funding to combat invasive species, and we intend to better allocate our resources by concentrating exclusion efforts on high-risk pathways; increasing cooperation with the States and industry to support and improve data collection on new high-impact invasive species; and supporting cooperative informational campaigns to educate the public about invasive species.
As in the past, APHIS remains committed to preventing the introduction, establishment, and spread of harmful, invasive species. Looking to the future, APHIS has developed prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies to safeguard U.S. resources from this growing threat. Again, I would like to thank the Chairman, and Members of the Committee for granting me this opportunity to explain APHIS' key role in addressing issues involving invasive species.
Statement Presented by The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. College of Veterinary Medicine
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOVERVIEW
Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony regarding invasive plant, insect and disease pests in Florida and the nation. This hearing comes at a pivotal period in invasive pest managementone that will shape agriculture and natural resource policy for generations to come. We have learned from our increasing experience with globalization of markets, we have learned from our ineffective handling of non-medical epidemics, we have learned from our several decades experience with chemical, mechanical and biological control, we have learned from our financial unwillingness to adequately document the impact of invasive pests on natural resources, and, unfortunately, we frequently have learned the most from our mistakes. We have the opportunity now to improve our performance combating invasive pests as we benefit from better understanding of market forces, painfully learned lessons about the serious economic and ecological destruction, better methods to apply smaller amounts of more effective and safer herbicides, better ways to utilize mechanical advantage, and better ways to pretest the potential effects of biological control releases, and to document the measurable effects of invasive pests while taking steps to minimize their spread.
The unique geography of Florida creates a laboratory for invasive pest problems. It extends across two of the Earth's major climatic zones (temperate and tropical), its coastline and transportation centers have encouraged mass movement of people and produces, and it links the U.S with its Caribbean, Central and South American neighbors. Because Florida is exposed to high levels of invasive pest pressure, it also serves as an uncontrolled experiment in successful U.S establishment of non-native pests. Many of the pest examples presented have the potential to one day create economic and ecological damage to other parts of the United States.
Florida and the southeast are suitable habitats for numerous exotic organisms from South America, Asia, Australia and Africa. Florida is an important agricultural state and possesses unique subtropical and tropical environments. Florida agriculture receives over $6 billion in cash receipts for crops produced with a $53 billion economic impact on the state when forestry is included. Over the past 20-year period, an average of greater than one insect per month has successfully established in Florida. Nearly one-third of all plants growing in Florida are non-native. Most invaders prove not to be serious pests. Some, however, such as fire ant, citrus leaf miner, and silver leaf whitefly quickly establish, spread to other states, and prove very disruptive to the native environment, agricultural crops and the health and economic well-being of Americans. The exotic species being introduced include plant and animal pests and diseases of both domestically produced and wildlife species as well as exotics that destroy the natural balance in the environment and invasively displace native species. These pests use Florida as an entry point and, because of the numbers of annual visitors from other parts of the United States through these states, as a springboard to disperse exotic pests to other parts of the country.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCOST OF EXOTIC PESTS
Exotic pests are expensive. The State of Florida has expended $175 million since the Mediterranean fruit fly eradication campaign of 1956 in eradication and suppression campaigns for exotic pests. These costs do not include economic impact on growers or the environment. The projected costs to the United States Department of Agriculture, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) on pest surveys, identification and eradication in Florida for FY 1998, total more than $30 million. Asian pests are a particularly hot issue.
The increased mobility of people and expanded international trade, heavily targeted for Florida ports of entry, contributes to increased rates of invasion by exotic pests as follows:
Silver leaf whitefly. The silver leaf whitefly entered Florida in 1986, spreading rapidly and reaching California by 1991. It has caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to vegetables and ornamental crops.
Tomato mottle geminivirus. The tomato mottle geminivirus causes mottling and reduction of the size of new leaves, stunting of subsequent growth of young plants and reduced number and size of tomato fruit produced after the plant has been infected with the virus. This virus was introduced along with silver leaf whitefly that transmits the virus from plant to plant and has spread across the southern states and as far west as California. During the first year of infestation, the Florida tomato industry suffered losses of $125 million. It has been kept in check only by expensive cultural practices and frequent sprays of insecticides.
Tomato yellow leaf curl geminivirus. This virus also is spread by silver leaf whitefly, and it affects tomatoes and other vegetables and ornamental plants. The virus was introduced into Florida in 1997 and is now spreading. Its total impact on Florida and other states is not yet known.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Citrus leafminer. The citrus leafminer invaded Florida in 1993, and by 1994 moved to Louisiana and Texas citrusproducing areas. Before being brought under biological control in Florida, growers were forced to spend an estimated $20 million per year in additional control costs.
Mediterranean fruit fly. Medfly was discovered in 1997 in Tampa, Florida, and has cost the state and Federal Government more than $20 million for eradication.
Citrus canker bacterium. Where present, citrus canker makes production of grapefruit, navel oranges and other high quality oranges impossible. Citrus fruit from affected states or countries is quarantined from entering states and countries free of the disease, resulting in huge market losses. Citrus canker has been found in Florida three times during the Twentieth Century. It is present in Florida in metropolitan Dade and a few other counties, and over the initial two-year period has cost the state more than $24 million in eradication efforts. State and Federal fund commitments have grown in 1999 for eradication. Other citrus producing states such as California, Arizona, and Texas are at risk.
Citrus tristeza virus (CTV). CTV causes citrus trees on certain rootstocks to grow poorly, decline and show dying back of twigs, and produce smaller fruit of poor quality. The trees eventually die within a few months to a few years from the time they became infected. CTV kills between 100,000 to 500,000 citrus trees per year causing losses between $30 and $60 million per year. The introduction of brown citrus aphid in 1996, a very effective vector of severe strains of the virus, has increased losses dramatically.
Tropical soda apple (TSA). The TSA is native to Argentina and central Brazil, and was first recorded in Florida in 1988. This plant pest now infests well over 150,000 acres and is found in several other states in the eastern United States and apparently is distributed by cattle shipments. TSA grows up to six feet tall and the entire plant is covered with thorn-like prickles. Each plant can produce 40,000 to 60,000 seeds in fruits that are consumed by wildlife and livestock, spreading the plant over large areas. TSA is an innocuous weed in pastures, ditch banks, vegetable fields, and rangelands.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Old world climbing fern. This fern was first recorded in south-central Florida in the late 1950's, and now covers an estimated 39,000 acres, overtopping pine lands, cypress swamps, Everglades tree islands and open wetland marshes. Each single leaf of this plant is capable of reaching lengths of over 100 feet, and dense stands have completely eliminated the understory. Attempts to control climbing fern with fire have dispersed glowing stem sections to spread fire, and spores, to adjacent habitats.
African ticks. Recently, an Amblyomma species of tick from Africa that often carries deadly livestock disease . . . heartwater . . . was found on a tortoise owned by a Winter Haven reptile breeder. In August, 1997, the reptile breeder brought an injured African tortoise to the University of Florida veterinary school. The tortoise carried African ticks, only the second finding of these ticks in the United States outside of port inspection facilities. The ticks can spread heartwater, a disease that kills 90 percent of cattle, sheep, goats and wildlife such as antelope and deer it infects. While no cases of the disease have been reported in the United States, the disease has destroyed livestock production in eastern Africa and has spread to islands in the Caribbean. According to officials, heartwater is a ''list A'' disease, one of the most important diseases in the world.
These examples represent just a few of an increasing number of invasive species which, when established in Florida and beyond, dramatically impact U.S. Agriculture and natural resources. They also represent challenges that are being addressed by IFAS through our research and education programs. The role of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in addressing the threats that are generated through invasive species is straightforward. As the designated Land Grant Institution for the state of Florida, the mission of UF/IFAS is to develop, test and implement science-based technologies that can prevent, counteract and/or manage the harmful effects of invasive species establishment and spread. While this is only a component of our overall mission in agriculture and natural resources, the relative importance of addressing invasive species is growing in proportion to the increasing interception, detection and establishment of exotic species in the state. Shifts in priorities, personnel and financial resources to react to emerging pests, weeds and disease organisms are a recurrent part of UF/IFAS program planning, and more importantly, this need for response to the latest threat(s) dilutes longer-term research and education programs which address equally important agricultural issues unrelated to invasive species. While leadership and participation by UF/IFAS in reaction is obviously required when a new organism is detected in Florida, there is a great and immediate need to identify the exotic pests in other countries with which the United States maintains frequent and extensive travel and trade. Identification of potential pests will allow us to determine common avenues of introductions and to develop techniques for early detection. Coupled with continuing efforts and to find effective economic and environmentally acceptable methods for eradication and containment, early pest identification and detection methods will allow us to pursue invasive species in proactive mode, and hopefully to be more responsive to the threats that are posed.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A program of comprehensive and cooperative research, education and regulatory efforts between Florida and other affected states has been proposed to develop major tools to deal with exotic pest problems. Specific activities that would be carried out as part of this program include the following:
Developing a database containing threatening exotic organisms, and expertise to identify these organisms quickly and accurately;
Improvement of risk assessment protocols, including determination of most likely invaders and potential economic and ecological impacts;
Improvement and implementation of effective early detection and prevention strategies;
Improvement of early detection, sampling, and mapping technologies for exotic organisms that have gained entry and established;
Improvement of detection methods in commodities;
Analysis of trade policy, patterns, and routes of pest entry for major commodities entering southeastern states;
Analysis of pest quarantine protocols in countries of pest origin for major imported commodities;
Improvement of fumigation/eradication methods in commodities;
Improvement of area-wide eradication technologies;
Analysis and development of communication/education practices related to prevention of pests introduction, pest detection, and pest eradication;
Improvement of biological suppression techniques for pests that escape eradication.
Development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for major exotic plant and animal pests and diseases.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFUNDING INITIATIVE
A Comprehensive Initiative for Research and Education, and Regulation of Exotic Pests could be funded under a $ 10 million request for Tropical/Subtropical Agricultural Research Program (T STAR), administered by the University of Florida and the University of Hawaii. T -STAR is the United States research program in tropical/subtropical agriculture funded by a special research grant under PL89106 through USDA/CSREES. The program is designed to strengthen research capabilities and economies for the United States Caribbean and Pacific Basins, which are large importers of food.
The Comprehensive Exotic Pest Initiative would utilize $7 million in Federal funds to be distributed through a competitive grant process among T -STAR educational institutions and collaborating Federal and state regulatory agencies in Florida and Hawaii. These funds will be used exclusively for the comprehensive research, education and regulatory initiative as outlined.
IMPLICATIONS OF INVASIVE SPECIES ON UF/IFAS RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS
Invasive Plants. Old-world climbing fern (Lygodium microphyllum) was first reported as having naturalized outside of cultivation in the 1950's. In the 1980's, it created alarm among invasive plant biologists because of its ability to overtop shrubs and tree canopies and completely eliminate these layers in a wide variety of south Florida habitats. Reports of new finds are made regularly, including particularly discouraging reports of large infestations (over 100 acres) in Everglades National Park.
Ardesia aenata is a small shrub with beautiful wintertime red berries, but a species that has spread from backyard landscaping into many habitats in central and north Florida. It is currently the most frequently encountered plant species in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection $5 million annual terrestrial invasive plant control efforts.
Skunkvine (Paederia foetida) ranges widely in central Florida pinelands and hammocks, overtopping trees and shrubs in right-of-ways, pasture land and natural areas.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes,) was creating problems in the late 1800's, and still drains state and Federal coffers of over $1 million annually to provide maintenance control. Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) costs Florida about $15 million a year for in selected lakes and waterways.
Melaleuca (M. quinquenervia), the Australian tree that carpets many of the coastal areas in south Florida draws $1 million annually for the very successful SFWMD control program in conservation water sheds.
Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebenthifolius) covers thousands of acres, and continues to move further north.
While litanies of horror abound, there is opportunity for success in dealing with invasives. We've learned the hard way that certain actions are patterns or are key parts of the problem and others that will be significant steps to the solutions.
1. We have used the resources of the USDA, U.S Army Crops of Engineers, and land-grant universities to develop methods of control for particular invasive plant species, but we have not , with some notable exceptions, effectively documented the effects of these species on native plant and animal communities, nor on the systems processes (e.g. fire, hydrology, nutrient cycling, etc.) fundamental to the ecosystems being invaded. Research funds are available to test herbicides, machines and find biological control agents, but funding entities have been far less interested in the critically important documentation of effect.
A recent paper by Hager and McCoy (1998) summarizes this inadequacy relative to one of the largest wetland plant pest biological control programs in North America, the purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) programs currently, both in Canada and the United States, a major environmental effort is involved in the establishment of successful classical biological control for purple loosestrife. However, the fundamental questions still have not been answered: What are the effects of purple loosestrife on native wetland flora and fauna and are they significant?
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More locally focused, we periodically suspend control of water hyacinth in Florida
because elected officials forget how devastating this plant an be, and because we as researchers have not documented the economic and ecological impacts this plant can cause.
2. Pathways of introduction have been examined by several scholars and particular attention must be paid to horticultural imports. Unfortunately, no thoroughly tested and verified method of assessing the potential invasiveness (and level of damage) of new introductions has been developed, but this country is lagging behind the vigorous efforts of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and several other nations to establish and test assessment protocol, and to improve it as additional information is gathered.
Several research efforts are underway, including University of Florida faculty, and additional support is needed. State and Federal agencies must expand on the current USDA-APHIS efforts in this area, and find politically acceptable, scientifically meaningful and regionally beneficial methods to reduce future problems.
3. Establishing Partnerships with our geographical and economic neighbors will be critical if meaningful programs are to emerge. Plant pests in the Caribbean and Florida have, and will continue, to threaten each others' land mass. Existing programs, such as the Caribbean Basin Administrative Group (CBAG), Tropical and Sub-tropical Agricultural Research Program, have funding and mechanisms in place to encourage this type of multi-national approachadditional funding could foster international programs in invasive pest management and impact documentation that would benefit the economics and ecosystems of all parties.
4.Public education continues to be critical to any substantial improvement in reducing tomorrow's invasive pest problems. Fly into Australia and you are part of a non-stop invasive plant education program; fly into the U.S, and commercial carriers won't even show the short videos that have already been produced that educate travelers about the hitchhiking pest problem.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Invasive pest management falls squarely into the political black hole of prevention. It took Smokey the Bear to convince children, not adults, that prevention is a good thing. It will take the ecological equivalent of Smokey the Bear to convince children, who will become adults, that invasive pest management and problem prevention is a good thing. The extension resources of the land-grant system could play a definitive role in shaping public perception if funding and direction were provided.
INVASIVE SPECIES AND FLORIDA CITRUS
Citrus is a magnet for invasive species, and its $1 billion farm gate value in Florida is threatened by several exotic pests and diseases. Brazil currently is expending tens of millions in fighting citrus diseases, as well. Florida and California have experienced dozens of expensive eradication campaigns in the last 5 years, amounting to tens of millions of dollars. During the recent decade, numerous invaders have entered Florida and have been detected on citrus, often first in homeowner trees. Included are the citrus leafminer, brown citrus aphid, citrus psyllid, Mediterranean fruit fly, Oriental fruit fly, and citrus canker. Several of these organisms became permanently established, while others have been or are currently under eradication programs. Effective vectors (carriers) of several citrus pathogens are known to occur in Florida (including brown citrus aphid and citrus psyllid) and California and thus spread in citrus is likely to occur rapidly if exotic disease organisms are introduced into either state. Recent studies indicate that we can expect continued introductions of exotic citrus pests and diseases, and among those of most concern are citrus variegated chlorosis (South America), citrus greening (Asia and Africa), gall diseases (Caribbean region), pink hibiscus mealybug (as close as Puerto Rico), additional root weevil species (Caribbean region), citrus leprosis virus (South America) and fruit flies (worldwide). These groups of organisms, in addition to impacting U.S. citrus production directly, have the added impact of threatening the export and domestic marketing of fresh citrus fruits, a critical element of both Florida and California industries.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCURRENT PROBLEMS WITH INVASIVE SPECIES IN FLORIDA CITRUS
Diaprepes abbreviatus, the West Indies sugarcane rootstock borer, invaded Florida in 1964, but remained isolated and innocuous until the late 1980's, when spread through the citrus region began. Root feeding by larvae of this insect results in serious damage, stressing trees and ultimately leading to tree death. Invasion of weevil-wounded roots by other soil organisms compounds the problem. Expansion to 21 counties is documented in Florida, and it is estimated that 150,000 acres of citrus are currently infested. Other plants also are attacked by Diaprepes, including ornamental shrubs and trees, vegetables such as potatoes, grasses and a number of native Florida plants. Thus, the impact of this weevil is felt well beyond citrus and into the home landscape. Research efforts have been focused on clarification of aspects of the biology of this elusive soil insect so that appropriate suppression and management strategies can be developed. Several interagency research programs are in place to address this important pest.
Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV) causes citrus trees on certain rootstocks to grow poorly, decline and show dying back of twigs, and to produce smaller fruit of poor quality. The disease agent, the largest know plant virus, is moved from infected to healthy trees by aphids, particularly the brown citrus aphid. Infected trees die within a few months to a few years from the time they become infected. CTV kills between 100,000 to 500,000 citrus trees per year, causing losses between $30 and $60 million per year. The introduction of brown citrus aphid in 1996 has accelerated the spread of severe strains of the virus, resulting in increasing losses of trees on susceptible rootstocks. Research efforts in Florida involve a large group of scientists who are conducting studies on a wide range of topics from aphid management to basic virology to development of plants resistant or immune to the virus.
Citrus Canker Bacterium. Periodic citrus canker infections scar the history of citrus production worldwide, as this bacterial disease is easily spread by movement of live plant material from infected areas. Such was the case with emergence of new infections in Florida in the past two years. The canker bacterium, spread from tree to tree by mechanical movement and by wind-blown rain, has established a foothold in Florida backyard citrus, spreading with weather episodes in the face of aggressive eradication efforts. Quarantines are in effect to limit movement of articles which might contribute to further spread, and removal and destruction of infected or exposed trees is being used to disinfest areas with canker. UF/IFAS has reactivated and stepped up research programs to address canker, and collaborations with canker researchers world-wide are being used to apply current knowledge to this tough problem. Fundamental genetic studies are assisting in the tracing of canker detections to their origins and to corroborate similarities of infections in various properties. Understanding of canker spread through weather events is being advanced by collaborative UF/IFAS-USDA research so that predictions of directions for new infections can be provided to enhance survey and detection programs. A call to the chemical pesticide and pharmaceutical industries for testing of suppressive or remedial materials has been made, and several products are being evaluated by UF/IFAS that, while not effective in eliminating canker bacteria, may provide some promise in slowing the spread of infection while eradication measures are being pursued. In addition, development of strategies to produce citrus trees immune to infection with canker is underway, with several promising leads. A long term solution, plant improvement targeted at overcoming citrus susceptibility to canker may one day prevent infections or limit their impact. For the present, elimination of active sources of inoculum to prevent further spread is a high priority. Permanent establishment of canker bacteria in Florida or other U.S. citrus industries would seriously jeopardize the fresh marketing of fruit domestically as well as into international markets.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCINVASIVE LIVESTOCK PESTS
What Is Heartwater?
Heartwater is an acute tickborne disease of domestic and wild ruminants, including cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and antelope. This lethal disease is caused by the rickettsial bacterium Cowdria ruminantium, an intracellular organism found in the endothelial cells of brain capillaries, and it is transmitted by ticks of the genus Amblyomma. It has recently been shown that C. ruminantium infection can also be transmitted vertically from infected cows to their calves (Deem et al., 1996).
A typical case of acute heartwater, as seen in susceptible ruminants such as those in the United States, would exhibit clinical signs within 23 weeks of tick attachment. The first evidence of clinical disease would be a rapid rise in body temperature, loss of appetite and respiratory distress, followed by nervous signs such as circling motions, incoordination, recumbency, and paddling movements of the limbs. Mortality rates in susceptible species in the United States would be expected to be from 40% to approaching 100%. On post-mortem examination, the most constant feature is accumulation of fluid in various organs and cavities, resulting in pulmonary edema, hydropericardium, hydrothorax and ascites.
Diagnosis of heartwater in the field has relied for 50 years on the demonstration of C. ruminantium organisms in Giemsa-stained brain smears (Purchase, 1945). However, the recent development of DNA probes (Waghela et al., 1991; Mahan et al., 1992) and PCR assays (Mahan et al., 1992; Peter et al., 1995) has provided more sensitive tests for the diagnosis of C. ruminantium infection in both ticks and ruminants. Unfortunately, there is no adequate serodiagnostic test available at the present time due to serological cross-reactions with closely related Ehrlichia species (Logan et al., 1986; du Plessis et al., 1987, 1993; Jongejan et al., 1989; Mahan et al., 1993 ; Martinez et al., 1993; van Vliet et al., 1995; Katz et al., 1996).
There is no effective treatment for heartwater once clinical disease is evident. Also, no practical vaccine is currently available commercially to protect against the disease, although promising results have recently been attained in the development of inactivated vaccines (Martinez et al., 1994; Mahan et al., 1995) and a recombinant DNA vaccine (Nyika et al., in press). Prevention of heartwater, therefore, relies on control of its tick vectors at this time.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why Is Heartwater A Threat To The United States?
Heartwater is a serious threat to the United States for four reasons:
(1) the risk of introduction of infected ticks from the Caribbean is ever-present; (2) the risk of introduction of infected ticks on imported wildlife is very real, as reemphasized by recent events in Florida; (3) the risk of introduction of infected wildlife from Africa is also very real, as demonstrated by the recent discovery of C. ruminantium carrier status in several wild animal species that have been or are being imported into the United States; and, (4) two tick species indigenous to the United States have been shown to be experimental vectors of heartwater.
Each of these four factors that pose increased risks for introduction and establishment of heartwater in the United States is described below.
HEARTWATER IN THE CARIBBEAN
A major vector of heartwater, the tropical bont tick Amblyomma variegatum, was introduced onto the eastern Caribbean island of Guadeloupe early last century on cattle imported from Senegal in what was then French West Africa (Uilenberg et al., 1984). Since then, and particularly in recent years, the tropical bont tick has spread as far north as Puerto Rico and as far south as Barbados and St. Vincent (Barre et al., 1995). In 1980, heartwater was confirmed in the Caribbean for the first time on the French island of Guadeloupe (Perreau et al., 1980) and later on the island of Antigua (Birnie et al., 1985). There is strong circumstantial evidence that much of the recent inter-island spread of the tropical bont tick has occurred through movement of infested migratory birds, and in particular cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) (Corn et al., 1993). The potential for the cattle egret to introduce the tropical bont tick, and thereby heartwater, into the United States was graphically demonstrated in 1992 when a cattle egret, banded on Guadeloupe, was found on Long Key in the Florida Keys (Norval et al., 1992). The spread of the tropical bont tick A. variegatum within the Caribbean has been summarized by Barre et al. (1995).
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is clear, therefore, that opportunities for the tropical bont tick, and thereby heartwater, to be introduced into the United States from the Caribbean are many and continuous.
IMPORTATION OF HEARTWATER VECTORS ON WILDLIFE
In the last 35 years, both natural and experimental tick vectors of heartwater have been introduced inadvertently into the United States on imported wildlife on numerous occasions. Some examples are given in various publications (Diamant, 1965; Becklund, 1968; Mertins & Schlater, 1991) and from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports.
In addition, heartwater tick vectors have been introduced into the United States in recent years on giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), topi (Damaliscus lunatus) and elephant (Loxodonta africana). It is clear, therefore, that animals as diverse as large game, ostriches, tortoises, lizards and snakes are capable of bringing into the United States exotic ticks that could be infected with heartwater.
As a result of these observations, the USDA decided in 1994 to assess the possible risk posed by ticks on imported reptiles and, consequently, initiated surveillance activities in Florida at the principal port of entry, Miami International Airport. During a three-month period, 349 import shipments with a total of 117,690 reptiles and amphibians were inspected. Ticks were identified on one or more animals in 28% of the shipments comprising 46% of the animals (Clark & Doten, 1995). Of these 97 infested shipments, 44 comprising 39,934 animals were infested with either the American reptile tick A. dissimile or the African tortoise tick A. marmoreum, both of which have been reported to be experimental vectors of heartwater (Jongejan, 1992; Bezuidenhout, 1987; Walker & Olwage, 1987). Clark & Doten (1995) warned of the threat that introduction of these exotic ticks posed to United States agriculture and outlined how imported reptiles should be inspected and treated to prevent entry of exotic ticks, but their recommendations were never implemented.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Two years later on one day in February 1997, USDA officials examined animals imported by one Florida importer. On that one day, seven reptiles were found to be infested with tick vectors of heartwater, five tortoises from Africa with A. marmoreum and one iguana and one snake from Central America with A. dissimile.
It will have come as little surprise to anyone, therefore, that scientists at the University of Florida (Allan et al., in press) have found that the African tortoise tick A. marmoreum has not only been introduced into the United States but has become established and is breeding on at least one premises in central Florida, that of a reptile breeder. This infestation of A. marmoreum has been contained to one premise, and actions are well underway to eradicate it.
IMPORTATION OF INFECTED WILDLIFE
Much has been published on heartwater in wildlife, but most reports are of poorly designed studies and most reviews of the research have been uncritical. Therefore, it is worth briefly reviewing our current knowledge of heartwater in wildlife. Nine wildlife species have been shown experimentally to be susceptible to C. ruminantium infection and they are blesbok (Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi) (Neitz, 1933, 1935), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) (Andrew & Norval, 1989), black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) (Neitz, 1935), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) (Dardiri et al., 1987), and common eland (Taurotragus oryx), giraffe, greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), and blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) (Peter et al., in press), and sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) (Peter, personal communication). All other reports of infections of wildlife with C. ruminantium have been based solely on detection of the organism in biopsy material (Kock et al., 1995) or post-mortem samples (Neitz, 1944; Hofmeyr, 1956; Karrar, 1960; Young & Basson, 1973; Poudelet et al., 1982; Oyejide et al., 1984; Okoh et al., 1987; Pandey et al., 1992; Okewole et al., 1993; Jackson & Andrew, 1994) or on unpublished data (Oberem & Bezuidenhout, 1987).
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Prior to this year, only two species, the blesbok (Neitz, 1937) and the African buffalo (Andrew & Norval, 1989) had been shown to be subclinical carriers of heartwater capable of infecting ticks with C. ruminantium. A report that the leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) and the crowned guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) could be carriers of C. ruminantium infection (Oberem & Bezuidenhout, 1987) was based on unpublished data and, therefore, cannot be considered definitive. However, the situation has changed dramatically this year with the demonstration that five African wildlife species (common eland, giraffe, greater kudu, sable antelope, and blue wildebeest) can easily become subclinically infected with C. ruminantium and can act as very effective carriers of infection, appearing normal clinically and yet being efficient sources of fatal infections for domestic livestock (Peter et al., in press). It is clear, therefore, that wild ruminants imported from heartwater-endemic regions of Africa are capable of introducing heartwater into the United States, and many, if not all, of the species shown to be carriers have been imported already into the United States. This raises the worrying question: Has C. ruminantium already been introduced into the United States in wild ruminants imported from Africa?
AMERICAN TICKS AS VECTORS OF HEARTWATER
Even though heartwater is a disease exotic to the United States, two tick species indigenous to the United States have been shown to be experimental vectors of heartwater. They are the Gulf Coast tick Amblyomma maculatum (Uilenberg, 1982) and the Cayenne tick Amblyomma cajennense (Uilenberg, 1983). Both species feed on ruminants susceptible to heartwater and, therefore, if heartwater was to be introduced into the United States, it could become established and spread without the introduction of an exotic tick vector.
How Can The Threat Of Heartwater To The United States Be Minimized?
There are immediate measures that can and should be taken to minimize each risk of introduction and/or establishment of heartwater in the United States. They are described below.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Eradication of the Tropical Bont Tick from the Caribbean
There have already been successful efforts at eradication of the tropical bont tick A. variegatum from individual Caribbean islands, namely St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands (Hourrigan et al., 1969; Graham & Hourrigan, 1977), Puerto Rico and Vieques (Garris et al., 1989), and Culebra (Garris et al., 1993). However, after completion of these eradication programs, the tropical bont tick reappeared on St. Croix in the 1980's and on Puerto Rico in 1992 (Bokma & Shaw, 1993), demonstrating that eradication of A. variegatum from a Caribbean island is not permanent as long as other Caribbean islands remain infested.
With this historical perspective in mind, a regional program to eradicate the tropical bont tick, and thereby heartwater, from the Caribbean was developed (Garris et al., 1993). The eradication program was initiated in 1994 with the creation of the Caribbean Amblyomma Program, a regional Caribbean Community (CARICOM) program administered from Barbados and jointly implemented technically by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Eradication activities were launched on Anguilla in May 1995 and later on St. Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. A separate eradication program was initiated by France in the French West Indies, starting in Martinique. At present, the tropical bont tick is established on at least 15 Caribbean islands. However, eradication efforts are either absent or poorly coordinated on more than half of them at this time, including the original focus of both A. variegatum and heartwater, the French island of Guadeloupe.
There are two areas of concern with the Caribbean tropical bont tick eradication program, one administrative and political and the other technical. The former concern relates to the fact that the eradication program has got off to a slow start due to funding problems and inadequate coordination, particularly between the FAO/IICA and French components of the program. It must be remembered that A. variegatum eradication, and thereby heartwater eradication, can only be achieved if all infested islands participate fully in the program. If the tropical bont tick eradication program in the Caribbean is unsuccessful, the threat of heartwater to the livestock and deer populations of the United States will be continuous and, in all likelihood, the introduction of heartwater into the United States will only be a matter of time. Consequently, every effort must be made to ensure that the Caribbean tropical bont tick eradication program is adequately funded and coordinated.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The second and technical area of concern relates to the method chosen for tick eradication, namely the application of a pour-on acaricide to all livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) every two weeks. For this method to be successful, all farmers must be willing to have their animals treated every two weeks and all livestock must be exposed to treatment. Experience on Anguilla and St. Maarten, for example, have shown that these two prerequisites cannot be met. On the one hand, farmer cooperation is less than satisfactory and, on the other, feral livestock on a number of infested islands cannot be caught for treatment. Consequently, consideration should be given to other technologies that can overcome these problems. Two such technologies are the bont tick decoy and the self-medicating applicator. The bont tick decoy is a pheromone/acaricide-impregnated plastic tag that attracts and kills bont ticks with high efficacy and minimal use of pesticide over a three-month period (Norval et al., 1996; Allan et al., 1996). It has been tested in the Caribbean on Guadeloupe (Allan et al., 1997) and , more recently , on St. Maarten with excellent results. During the trial on St. Maarten, it become apparent that farmers, many of whom worked outside the farm during the day, were reluctant to muster their animals every two weeks for pour-on treatment but were content to collect them every three months for decoy treatment. The self-medicating applicator is a feeding device that passively treats animals with acaricide (Sonenshine et al., 1996) and it could be used to treat feral livestock that are not being treated in the current eradication program. Therefore, the tick decoy and self-medicating applicator technologies should be utilized in the Caribbean tropical bont tick eradication program to ensure acaricidal treatment of all livestock and, thereby, to maximize opportunities for eventual eradication of the tick.
CONTROL OF IMPORTATION OF TICKS ON WILDLIFE
It is well known that wild ungulates (Becklund, 1968) and, more recently, wild birds such as ostriches (Mertins & Schlater, 1991) can bring tick vectors of heartwater into the United States, and appropriate regulatory measures have been taken to prevent importation of ticks on these wild animal species. However, little attention has been given to imported reptiles until this year. Now, with the vast numbers of reptiles being imported into the United States, with the relatively high tick infestation rates on these animals, and with the establishment in the United States this year of at least one exotic reptile tick species considered capable of transmitting heartwater, there is an urgent need to develop regulations immediately to prevent importation on reptiles of tick vectors of heartwater. If adequate controls are not implemented soon, exotic tick species will become established in multiple locations in the United States and, in time, are likely to introduce heartwater into the livestock and deer populations.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It would seem prudent to conduct surveys for ticks on both indigenous wildlife (especially deer) and captive exotic ungulates to determine if exotic tick vectors of heartwater have been introduced to these populations. Such surveys would be of particular importance in those states climatically favorable for establishment of the exotic tick vectors. Tick surveys are currently being organized in Florida following the discovery of an A. marmoreum infestation in that state. If any exotic ticks are identified in these surveys, immediate actions must be taken to eliminate the infestations, using protocols similar to those being used to eradicate the A. marmoreum infestation in Florida.
There are no acaricides registered in the United States for use on reptiles. Two acaricides have been used successfully in South Africa to treat tortoises infested with the tick A. marmoreum; they are carbaryl (Walker & Bezuidenhout, 1973) and amitraz (Petney & Knight, 1988). Research is currently underway at the University of Florida to determine which acaricides, among those effective against Amblyomma ticks, are safe for use on reptiles and to develop protocols for control of Amblyomma ticks on imported reptiles.
Control of Importation of Infected Wildlife
The discoveries that at least seven species of wild ruminants are carriers of C. ruminantium demonstrate graphically the ease with which heartwater could be imported into the United States in wild ruminants imported from heartwater-endemic areas of Africa, which is most of sub-Saharan Africa. Until recently, there was no test sensitive or specific enough with which to detect carrier animals. Now such a test is available, the PCR assay developed at the University of Florida (Mahan et al., 1992). All wild ruminants that have been imported into the United States from sub-Saharan Africa should be identified and tested for C. ruminantium infection by PCR, with those that test positive, if any, subjected to permanent quarantine in a tick-free environment. Similarly, all wild ruminants being considered for importation from sub-Saharan African should be tested for C. ruminantium infection by PCR, with those testing positive refused entry to the United States. Consideration for testing should also be given to the progeny of wild ruminants imported from sub-Saharan Africa since vertical transmission of C. ruminantium has been demonstrated in cattle (Deem et al., 1996). Such a testing regimen will minimize the risk of introduction of wildlife carrying the organism that causes heartwater and will indicate whether or not wildlife infected with C. ruminantium have already entered the United States.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If wild ruminants are not tested for heartwater, one of two scenarios is likely to occur: either wild ruminants will eventually introduce C. ruminantium into the United States or, if it has already been introduced, the infection will eventually spread to susceptible livestock or deer, starting a heartwater epidemic in the United States. These cannot be allowed to happen.
Control of Ticks on Wild Ungulates in the United States
Wild ungulates such as deer play an important role in maintaining populations of certain tick species in the United States, including those native and exotic species that could transmit heartwater. For example, the American tick A. maculatum, a proven experimental vector of heartwater, commonly feeds on white-tailed deer (Samuel & Trainer, 1970; Kellogg et al., 1971; Forrester et al., 1996). Also, the immature stages of the African tick A. marmoreum, another experimental vector of heartwater which has recently been introduced into Florida, feed on African antelope (Norval, 1975; Horak et al., 1983, 1987; Horak & Knight, 1986; Petney & Horak, 1988) and cattle, sheep and goats (Horak & Knight, 1986) and, therefore, presumably deer. Adult A. marmoreum ticks have even been found feeding on antelope such as bontebok (Damaliscus dorcas dorcas) (Horak et al., 1982). It would be prudent, therefore, in light of the increasingly serious threat that heartwater poses to the United States, for efforts to be made to encourage control of tick infestations on deer and captive exotic ungulates, especially where they commingle with cattle and other domestic ruminants. Such control of ticks on wild ungulates could be accomplished using self-medicating applicators (Sonenshine et al., 1996).
CONCLUSIONS RELATING TO AFRICAN TICKS
If the increasingly serious threat of heartwater to the livestock and deer populations of the
United States is to be minimized, then certain actions must be taken now. They include the following:
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC (1) The on-going Caribbean tropical bont tick eradication program must be supported with adequate funding and coordination, and new innovative technologies such as the bont tick decoy and the self-medicating applicator should be utilized to ensure that all livestock on the infested island are treated with acaricide.
(2) Regulations must be developed to prevent importation into the United States of tick vectors of heartwater on reptiles, and research should be supported to establish protocols for acaricidal treatment of imported reptiles.
(3) Surveys for ticks on both indigenous and exotic wildlife should be conducted to determine if exotic tick vectors of heartwater have entered the United States and, if such exotic ticks are identified, actions must be taken to eliminate the infestations.
(4) All wild ruminants imported from sub-Saharan Africa should be identified and tested for heartwater by PCR assay, with positive animals denied entry and subjected to permanent quarantine.
(5) Control of ticks on deer and captive exotic ungulates should be encouraged, especially where those wildlife commingle with livestock.
Statement of Lindsay Raley
Good morning. My name is Lindsay Raley.
I am vice-president of operations for Thelma C. Raley Inc., a citrus grove company that owns 1,200 acres in three Central Florida counties.
I am also president of Polk County Farm Bureau, whose members include hundreds of active farmers, growers and ranchers.
As a citrus grower and industry leader, I can honestly say that never before have pest and disease outbreaks posed a greater threat to my business and my industry than now. As some folks have already reiterated this morning, we have had two major Mediterranean fruit fly infestations and a citrus canker outbreak that have come dangerously close to my groves and my fellow Farm Bureau members' groves.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It doesn't get much worse than Medfly or canker when you're growing oranges, grapefruit and tangerines for the fresh market, which is where most of my fruit goes.
The quarantine guidelines alone are costly and cumbersome. For Medfly, we are required to spend hundreds of dollars to tarp our trucks and treat our fruit if we want to ship it. For canker, we are asked to pay thousands of dollars to decontaminate our grove workers and grove equipment if we want to help stop the spread of the disease.
And that's if we're lucky enough to keep our fruit. A Medfly infestation the size of the ones we had in 1997 and 1998 would quickly turn a fruit-laden grove into a wormy mass of mush. A canker outbreak of the aggressive strain we are currently battling would quickly spread its corky lesions to fruit throughout a citrus-producing region. And groves don't even have to be diseased to be destroyed to eradicate canker. Trees within 1,900 feet of diseased trees must be taken, too.
With canker finds just four miles from our county line here in Polk, we face the very real possibility that some of our trees may become diseased or exposed and have to be destroyed as a result.
Such a development would have economic ripple effects throughout our county.
Because the production of food and fiber is Polk's largest industry, and citrus is Polk's largest crop, a reduction in the 40 million boxes of citrus Polk grows each year would result in the loss of thousands of jobs. Polk's citrus industry employs 23,000 people, half the number of people Disney employs statewide. Polk's citrus industry also generates an annual economic impact of $2 billion.
And Polk processes into juice more citrus than any other county in the Nation.
Citrus is big business in Polk County. Any malady that poses a threat to it is serious business because citrus growers aren't the only ones who will suffer.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That's why we need your help, ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. House Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee.
We need your support when it comes time to seek funding to improve and expand the interdictory methods used at our ports of entry to prevent non-endemic pests and diseases from crossing our borders.
We will need your support again when it comes time to ask for funding to pay for the costly programs used to eradicate these maladies like citrus canker once they arrive.
Because the responsibility for safeguarding our homegrown commodities from the ravages of non-native pests and diseases lies with our federal government, we will be calling on you, our representatives, to help us before and after these emergencies occur to help protect the Nation's food supply and us, the Nation's food producers.
Thank you for taking the time to visit with us here in Florida. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.
Testimony of Carl B. Loop, Jr.
Good Morning. My name is Carl Loop. I'm a nurseryman from Jacksonville, and President of Florida Farm Bureau. I would like to thank the committee for having this field hearing in Florida. The issue of invasive species is especially important to Florida's agricultural industry, our members, and the citizens of this state.
Florida has battled invasive pests for over a century, whether it was Medfly in citrus and vegetables, screw worms with livestock, or even water hyacinths in our public waterways, it has been costly and time consuming.
This issue is also one with which our organization has been very involved. We have had educational conferences, fact-finding trips and close personal involvement with a variety of invasive pests.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our members have gone on record with the following Policy Statement:
Since new and exotic pests can have such an adverse environmental and economic impact on agriculture and the citizens of Florida, we should maintain an effective state-Federal pest exclusion and control program. Specific steps should be taken to:
(1) Assure that USDA/APHIS develop and maintain effective pest exclusion programs at ports of entry. These programs should include increased inspection of travelers, as well as public awareness programs to inform travelers of the threats posed by imported pests to our domestic agricultural industry.
(2) Assure that Congress appropriates USDA/APHIS/AQI user fee funding at the maximum level.
(3) Insure that USDA/APHIS fills vacant positions in a timely manner to maintain effective exclusion programs.
(4) Guarantee the development and maintenance of Federal/state programs that would exclude and/or control pests, such as the Brown Garden Snail, other land snails, citrus leafminer, Diaprepes Root Weevil and other new or exotic pests.
(5) Florida Farm Bureau will assist local county Farm Bureaus to open channels of communication, build coalitions supporting eradication, prevention, and exclusion efforts, and educate the public regarding exotic pests.
We support strengthening of Quarantine 37 and other plant import regulations and will continue efforts to increase enforcement of these regulations as a means of limiting introduction of exotic pests into the United States where environmental regulations limit control methods.
I would like to break my comments into three partsthe past history, present issues, and future outlook.
Prior to 1900, there were very few pest control measures available to farmers. New plants or animals were introduced with no oversight or concern about hitch-hiking pests. But on the positive side, travel was slow and often tedious. The pests or disease often manifested itself and caused the death or destruction of its host prior to arrival. In the early part of the twentieth century, the only effort was an eradication effort that literally required a total destruction of suspected host plants or animals. Quarantines became our tool to exclude pests. These quarantines were developed as pests were identified without any consistency or consideration for the inter-relationship of pests, trade, surveillance or risk assessment.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As trade and tourism increased along with the speed and convenience of travel, we saw more frequent outbreaks and a new factor came to bear. The cost of eradication now became a major concern for widespread infestations.
A classic example is that of the Carribean fruit fly. In the fifty's, a major infestation was found in our citrus production area. By 1964, USDA/APHIS determined that the CaribFly would never be a major economic pest for our citrus industry. Thirty-five years later, the CaribFly is endemic to Florida and is the major pest for fresh citrus in Florida. Florida growers literally spend millions of dollars each year to meet the export protocol. Without the Federal Government as a partner, state eradication efforts are doomed to failure.
Currently, with a citrus canker eradication program operating in urban and agricultural areas, it is obvious that invasive pests are more than simple agricultural problems. They are complex socioeconomic issues that may involve ethno-philosophical principles. While we have fingertip information and space-age technology, we are amazed to see a lack of communication between agencies. Let me give you a couple of examples.
USDA/APHIS has a quarantine prohibition on snails being imported. A Florida inspector found several six inch Banana Rasp Snails in a Tampa pet store. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Customs Serviced approved the importation because they weren't aware of the USDA quarantine. These Banana Rasp Snails grow up to twelve inches and are aggressive feeders on a wide variety of plant materials.
Another example is the establishment of the Bont tick in the Caribbean. These African ticks are large and transmit diseases such as heartwater disease to ruminants. Florida's livestock industry has called for the eradication in the Caribbean for about twenty years. We have urged USDA/APHIS to protect our industry from this pest.
Within the last year, there have been at least two major finds of these large African ticks on imported land tortoises and snakes. It appears to us that the US Fish and Wildlife Service does not see this as a major issue. We have heard of African ruminants being flown direct from Africa to a private landing strip in Florida with little or no quarantines, limited health tests and no inspection upon arrival.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are very concerned that domestic farm animals go through a very comprehensive and rigorous testing and quarantine process, yet wildlife and exotic pests that serve as hosts to the same pests don't have the same requirements.
As a nurseryman, I can personally tell you of the devastation that a small pest such as a leaf miner can bring to an operation. In the early 1980's, a leaf miner was brought into Florida on Colombian cut flowers. This pest attacked the chrysanthemum crops and made that crop unmarketable. It took several years to get that pest under control, and during that time I thought that we may not be able to produce mums in Florida ever again. This pest also devastated the celery industry. Our industry literally lost millions because of this pest and invested millions to get new products developed to have effective control and we continue to pay to keep it out of our crops.
There are many other horror stories or examples that I could give, but the reality is that we must learn from our mistakes and experiences and move forward.
Where do we go from here? We are supportive of the blue ribbon stakeholder committee's ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources.'' It is our hope that USDA/APHIS will restructure across the plant and animal sectors to develop a more pro active visionary agency. At times we are concerned that USDA/APHIS serves two masters, protecting American plant and animal resources while expediting trade. Our members often feel that they are sacrificed on the altar of trade by their government. We feel that there must be a strong commitment for sanitary and phytosanitary programs for imports. While government can't offer trade protection, our growers must be protected from offshore pests. After all, this is not just an agricultural issue, but an issue that touches every U.S. citizen.
We are appreciative that the President has recognized the impact of invasives and addressed them through a Presidential Executive Order on Invasives. There are several issues at work that cause us some concern. First, this issue of invasive pests is a nationwide concern for public and private lands. We fear that this will be perceived only as a western public lands issue. Because of this, we do not feel that the Executive Order should be a part of any legislation. We are also fearful that this debate may move to an effort to only allow native species on public land. In the southeast, bahaigrass in non-indigenous and can be classed as invasive. This species is an important forage crop, and is used extensively to stabilize road rights of way and literally covers millions of acres in the South.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Funding is always a concern. We recognize the limitation of the Federal budget; however, we urge Congress to utilize the AQI user trust fund and fully use the funds collected on an annual basis. An even greater challenge for funding is the expansion of this whole issue outside of just the agricultural budget. We would propose that other agencies such as the Department of Interior budget fro invasive pests and place this in a trust fund for use in research, detection and eradication. All citizens of the United States share a responsibility to protect our plant and animal resources from external pests.
I mentioned research; there is a need for a broad-based coordinated research program for invasives. Funding for land grant research on invasives is crucial. Florida has a great exposure to this risk and research is a critical link in reducing that risk. We need research on the specific pests, habitats, controls and prevention.
We need a strong risk assessment program and only continued learning through research will make it effective. Another component of research is that of biological control. For those species that have become or will become endemic, we must continue to seek biological control measures.
It is imperative that our government improve inter-agency communication and coordination. This lack of coordination was obvious in the recent Med-fly infestation. EPA seemed to continually place roadblocks in the path of eradication efforts. From the outside looking in, it appeared that EPA did not understand the reason or philosophy of the eradication process, nor that it was for all citizens' ultimate benefit. There needs to be better communication and coordination among all Federal agencies in the exclusion and eradication efforts.
Finally, I would like to talk about the state and Federal coordination of the various phases of invasive pest surveillance/exclusion programs. We are very proud of both our Florida Department of Agriculture program and the USDA program in Florida. We have found both agencies to be open and receptive to industry input. We believe we truly are a model for how the system should work. Unfortunately, sometimes decisions are made in Washington based on budget or other considerations. If Commodity Credit Corporation funds cannot be accessed, then we need to consider the development of an invasive pest trust fund.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Florida growers don't ask for subsidies and are willing to meet the free market head on. What they do ask their government for is protection against unwanted invasive pests by having strong exclusion detection, and eradication programs. We are willing to shoulder our responsibility, but don't handicap us by having ineffective programs.
Statement of R. J. (Jay) Taylor,
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Florida Tomato Exchange and the tomato growers in Florida, I want to thank you for your leadership in calling this hearing to review the impact of invasive pests and diseases on American agriculture, and in particular, on fruit and vegetable producers here in Florida. In addition, I believe it is important to review the mission of USDA in keeping harmful pests and diseases out of the U.S. and assess how USDA is adhering to its mission. It is also important to review the role international organizations and standards play in encouraging increased trade while at the same time possibly lowering phytosanitary standards that would increase the risk that harmful pests and diseases will enter the United States.
The Florida Tomato Exchange represents the shippers (or first handlers) of most of the fresh market tomatoes grown in Florida. During the winter months, all of the domestically produced tomatoes are grown in Florida. Unlike California, which grows mostly for the processing market, the Florida tomato deal is almost 100 percent fresh market. The value of our shipments averages about $400 million a year, employing thousands of full and part-time workers.
In addition to severe weather problems, our growers have had to face unfair competition from Mexico, ineffective safeguard provisions in NAFTA and its implementing legislation, unkept promises from the politicians in Washington, and the loss of chemicals that we need but which can be used by our competitors, who then in turn ship that product into the U.S. On top of these challenges, our growers have had to face the harm and threat of harm to our crops which has been caused by the introduction of harmful pests into the U.S. Losses due to invasive pests such as the white fly and the Medfly in recent years have cost us millions in direct crop losses and millions more in indirect costs. This is neither right nor fair. Our growers have not caused these problems but they are asked to pay for them.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is a fact that trade (imports and exports) of fruits and vegetables have increased substantially over the last decade. We support this trend and believe it is good for our growers and for American consumers. However, it is also true that increased imports of fruits and vegetables have brought with them more harmful pest and diseases, a significant number of which never have been seen before in the U.S. USDA's Under Secretary, Michael Dunn, noted recently that USDA is cognizant that increased trade has brought ''increased risks of introducing agricultural pests into the United States - pests that could cost billions of dollars of harm to American agriculture and trade.'' (Testimony of Michael V. Dunn, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA before the Committee on International Relations, Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, U.S. House of Representatives, October 26, 1999 [hereinafter referred to as Mr. Dunn's Statement or Testimony]).
Mr. Dunn notes that it is APHIS' job to protect American agriculture and it does so by ''safeguarding our borders against the entry of agricultural pests and diseases, while facilitating agriculture exports and ensuring science-based regulations in agricultural trade.'' In addition, Mr. Dunn noted that APHIS participates in international organizations and on international standards that ''support trade in the marketplace.'' APHIS, Mr. Dunn notes, has been ''a cornerstone for U.S. efforts to implement [these international agreements] in ways that make sense both from a regulatory and a trade perspective.'' APHIS has focused on how ''best to balance the need to safeguard production with [APHIS'] responsibility to make reasonable, science-based trade and regulatory decisions.''
It is true that government efforts to protect domestic producers have not kept pace with the increase in fruit and vegetable imports, and as a direct result, these pests and diseases have infested many crops in many states. It is also a fact that the cost to detect and eradicate these pests and diseases for growers, states and the Federal Government have run into the hundreds of millions of dollar. Except for a small emergency fund at APHIS, neither growers, states, nor APHIS has set aside sufficient funds for emergencies.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Moreover, as can be seen by Mr. Dunn's comments, we believe that USDA has made this problem worse by changing its invasive pest policy from one of pest exclusion [the Plant Pest Act and the Plant Quarantine Act require that USDA prohibit the introduction of harmful plant pests into the United States] to a policy where increased trade is primary and pest exclusion is secondary. In fact, APHIS' risk analysis now talks about ''an acceptable level of risk'' to domestic producers, which standard APHIS uses to be in compliance with its obligations to international standards. Mr. Dunn, in his testimony, notes that USDA's new ''systems approach'' which reduces the threat to U.S. producers to ''an acceptable level of risk'' is actually beneficial to U.S. producers.
It appears to us that Mr. Dunn and APHIS have gotten way out in front of the law and APHIS' mission to prevent the introduction of harmful pests into the U.S. But, even if you consider that the ''new'' APHIS standard follows the law and protects U.S. producers, we believe the evidence of real harm to U.S. producers belies this position. Given the harm and threat of harm to our industry from invasive pests and diseases from increased imports of fruits and vegetables, we believe our industry will not survive unless Congress intervenes.
Mr. Chairman, APHIS simply is not keeping out dangerous pests and diseases. It doesn't matter if it is due to its ''new'' policy or because it lacks sufficient resources to meet its responsibilities. Unless Congress acts now, the situation will continue to worsen and harm and threaten to harm domestic growers of fruits and vegetables. If Congress does not act now to re-establish APHIS' mandate ''to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases'' even if it means that trade won't be ''facilitated,'' then many of our growers, especially in states like California, Florida, and Texas surely will face extinction. It's just a question of when, not if.
Mr. Chairman, Congress must also recognize the fact that every year because of the introduction and dissemination of harmful pests and diseases on imports, an emergency is created in which Congress and state legislatures must act to provide funding to detect, eradicate and combat these pests. Every year extensive damage occurs to fruit and vegetable crops, as well as to other crops, such as wheat and cotton, from pests on imports. APHIS recognizes that once these pests enter the U.S. and are not detected and destroyed immediately, its resources are severely challenged and it becomes more costly and difficult to eradicate the pest or disease. The Asian longhorned beetle, the glass-winged sharpshooter, the Medfly and Oriental fruitfly, the plum pox virus, and citrus canker are only a few of the devastating pests and diseases that have recently entered the U.S. and threaten the very existence of those crops in which they infest.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is time for this Committee and Congress to assess the invasive pest situation in America today and work with the affected and potentially affected industries to address this problem.
We recommend this committee find that: the incidences of invasive pests and diseases from imports of fruits and vegetables are increasing, are directly related to increased imports of fruits and vegetables, and that they have caused significant damage to U.S. fruit and vegetable production; APHIS' resources in terms of funding and personnel have not kept pace and are inadequate in terms of detection, emergency response, and eradication; damage to U.S. fruit and vegetable production in part has been caused by APHIS' policy determination to balance its obligation to prevent the introduction of harmful pests and diseases against the need to facilitate agricultural export trade; and, that APHIS' existing risk analysis has failed to prevent the introduction of harmful pest and diseases into the U.S.
In view of the foregoing findings, we urge the Committee to conduct a thorough review of APHIS' responsibilities and duties in keeping out dangerous and harmful pests and diseases; determine whether new laws and/or funding is required for APHIS to accurately assess the risk to domestic industries, and completely fulfill its responsibilities to detect and immediately eradicate these pests once they enter the U.S.; determine whether APHIS' emergency response program is effective and if not what tools APHIS needs to meet its responsibilities (e.g., new sanctions such as fines, chemicals, etc.); and, determine whether APHIS needs to reorganize its functions to meet the demands of increased trade and the accompanying increased invasive pests and diseases on imports.
Lastly, Congress should seriously and quickly consider Mr. Canady's bill (H.R. 1504) which addresses this problem and consider the recommendations made by affected U.S. industries in the report, ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources'' (A stakeholder Review of the APHIS-PPQ Safeguarding System), July 1999, conducted by the National Plant Board.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, understand that we consider APHIS and its counterparts here in Florida and in other states, to be our first and last line of defense in preventing harmful pests and diseases from entering the U.S. We believe they do a very good job given the resources (dollars and people) they have. But, the system is not working and growers are being harmed. Each year the problem worsens, burdening Federal and state taxpayers and harming our growers, workers and disrupting our communities. Changes are needed and they are needed now.
Statement of Craig Wheeling
Good day. My name is Craig Wheeling. I am CEO of Brooks Tropicals, a large domestic producer of tropical fruit, including limes.
In summary, Florida is suffering from a rash of harmful pest infestations. The worst, citrus canker, is expected to cost over $200 million to eradicate, PLUS COSTS to packinghouses, lendors, farm employees, nurseries and grove owners. Furthermore, the January 16th Miami Herald estimates 1.8 million trees may have to be destroyed in South Florida. This would be an enormous loss to homeowners and industry.
As an update from Dade County on the status of citrus canker, we are in our fifth year of a citrus quarantine in Dade County. Canker was first detected there in October 1995, near Miami International Airport.
The original 1995 quarantine area for Miami-Dade included 15 square miles with positive canker finds. By October 1996, canker had spread to 60 square miles. By November 1997, it had spread to 170 square miles. By February 1999, it had spread to 220 square miles in Dade. By January 2000, almost 1,000 acres of lime groves had positive visual identifications for canker.
Competition from cheap imports combined with the costs of dealing with invasive pests is causing many South Dade farmers to rethink whether they want to grow any food crops in South Florida.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Based on our firm's experiences with invasive pests we have six broad recommendations:
A $50 million no-year, Federal contingency account for emergency invasive plant pest response activities should be established.
Right now, when an invasive pest like canker is found, we know of no quick, assured source of funding to ensure eradication. We believe that these infestations are like cancer in humans. It is beneficial to go in early and aggressively at the first sign of the disease. However, currently, farmers can be faced with a situation where they must figure out how to deal with the infestation and also push for appropriations. Getting this funding can take time and result in higher damage levels to society, and costlier eradication efforts.
Also, spending from this contingency account must include public education programs so that homeowners and industry do not inadvertently spread diseases like canker. Human movement of citrus plants and equipment (including clothing and gloves) is one of two major vectors for the spread of canker (the other being storms). After five years, we still don't have a quarantine boundary sign program educating citizens where the quarantine starts.
The borders of the U.S. must be effectively protected. As trade and tourism increases, efforts to effectively interdict invasive pests must be increased commensurately.
Federal tree insurance policies must be based on accurate estimates of the full cost of replacing the value of lost trees until they have grown to maturity
Trade discussions must address the serious impact of invasive pests on border states like Florida and California.
Commercial growers who have been harmed during this canker outbreak should be reimbursed by the Federal Government for both tree and crop losses. The introduction and spread of canker was not the growers' fault. It is an unfunded liability of increased trade and travel, and of lack of success of U.S. Government interdiction efforts.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The report ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources, A Stakeholder Review of the APHIS-PPQ Safeguarding System'' should be carefully considered. We believe that the report contains excellent ideas for dealing with the invasive pest problem.
More effective inspectionsA Commercial Pummelo row, with a canker infection estimated by the eradication project's Plant Pathologist at one to three years old, was left to spread canker in the middle of a major lime growing area.
It is hard to be optimistic in a month when a third of your industry is destroyed. However, we have some awfully good, hardworking people in the State and Federal Governments and in industry groups working on these problems. I want to take this opportunity to thank all these folks for their help and I still think with their help we can solve these problems.
Thank you again.
Statement of Andrew W. LaVigne
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, I am Andrew W. LaVigne, executive vice-president and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, a trade association that represents more than 11,500 Florida citrus growers.
We are extremely pleased, Mr. Chairman, that you have chosen to convene a field hearing in Florida to receive testimony from growers who are being adversely impacted by the United States' current policy with respect to invasive pests and diseases. The citrus industry is concerned with the potential for introduction of invasive pests and diseases that could affect our ability to compete in today's global marketplace.
For your information, the Florida citrus industry encompasses more than 850,000 acres of planted citrus with a farm gate value of $1.2 billion and an overall economic value to the State's economy of more than $8 billion. The industry employs more than 140,000 people across the state and we produce fresh and processed product that is consumed throughout the world. Florida is the second largest producer of oranges in the world and produces 76.1 percent of the U.S. orange crop. We also produce 77 percent of the U.S. grapefruit and 47 percent of the world supply of grapefruit.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The citrus community is made up of several generations of growers who have made extensive capital investments in order to produce ahealthy and wholesome product. Unfortunately, as we have seen over the last several years, the introduction and infestation of a disease such as Asiatic citrus canker can literally wipe out that investment and family history overnight.
Mr. Chairman, much like your home state of California, Florida's fruit and vegetable industry is under attack. Over the last 2 years alone, we have experienced infestations of Mediterranean fruit fly, Oriental fruit fly and Asiatic Citrus Canker. This is in addition to invasive plants such as melaluca, Brazilian pepper, tropical soda apple and several others.
Additional pressure from new and more damaging invasive pests and diseases appears to only be increasing. During the past 10 years, Florida has experienced a dramatic increase in passenger traffic, both from airline and cruise ship travel. In addition, many of Florida's ports and airports have seen dramatic increases in cargo shipments. In fact, Miami International Airport has become one of the largest cargo shipment airports in the world.
Much of this increased traffic has come from Central and South American countries that are currently battling many of the invasive pests and diseases that we in Florida hope to keep out of the state. What the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service's Division of Plant Industry (DPI) have discovered following recent infestations is that the pests were smuggled in by travelers to Florida.
For example, tropical fruit brought to Florida after a visit to one's home country was proven to be a direct line of introduction for the Medfly. Once here, the fruit showed obvious signs of bug larvae and the fruit was discarded. Unfortunately, this scenario is what led to an extensive Medfly eradication program in Hillsborough and Polk county two years ago. That program found state and federal regulators spraying malathion bait spray over urban communities in order to successfully eradicate this foreign pest.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today, you will also hear a great deal about the current Asiatic Citrus Canker disease that APHIS and DPI are fighting in Florida. This infestation began in 1995 in an urban backyard, very near Miami International Airport. Since 1995, the quarantine area in Dade and Broward counties has grown to roughly 507 square miles. Control action has been taken on 81,908 properties and roughly 176,883 citrus trees have been removed from backyards in this area.
Unfortunately, USDA and the State of Florida were not able to contain the disease in the urban setting. We now have expanded detection and eradication efforts in citrus production areas in the state. Currently, there are roughly 200 square miles of production under quarantine in three citrus producing counties. In addition, over 150,000 trees have been pushed and burned in those quarantine areas.
Growers are taking extensive measures to help prevent the spread of canker. They are decontaminating their employees, vehicles and grove implements when entering and/or exiting their groves. They are working to educate their employees, contractors and anyone that may have access to their operations about the dangers of citrus canker and about the steps that need to be taken in order to limit the potential for the movement of canker.
Establishing decontamination procedures is expensive and time consuming. Some growers are estimating upward of $100,000 per grove to build and implement decontamination procedures. As you can see, this has a dramatic impact again on our ability to compete in the international arena.
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, the Florida citrus industry is very concerned about the future interdiction, detection and eradication capabilities of the U.S. Government. We believe it is the responsibility of the government to properly police our borders and protect them from invasive pests and disease. Neither the Florida growers, nor agriculture producers throughout the U.S., have the authority or responsibility to perform the interdiction or eradication programs. At this point, the growers are bearing the brunt of these infestations.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe it is time to change the process by which interdiction efforts are implemented. The first step of an improved program must be to interdict the pest, plant or disease before it reaches U.S. soil. And if a pest, plant or disease does reach the U.S. and is detected, eradication efforts must be swift and effective.
If the canker eradication efforts had been swift in 1995, APHIS and DPI would have been operating in an area that covered only 15 square miles and would have been monumentally less expensive than the eradication program we are involved in today.
The USDA must work closely with state governments and grower associations to develop effective and continuous public education programs about the threat and cost of bringing contraband products into the United States.
Also, it is imperative that we move to implement the 300-plus recommendations in the ''Safeguarding American Plant Resources - A Stakeholder Review of APHIS-PPQ Safeguarding System'' report that was released July1, 1999. A great deal of manpower and time went into the development of this report and there are numerous recommendations that will improve the system.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, a dramatic increase in resourcespersonnel and moneyis vital to a successful eradication program. Also, we must move to strengthen the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and APHIS through passage of Congressman Canady's legislation, H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act.
These are three initiatives by which you can begin to provide protection to the Florida citrus industry, the Florida fruit and vegetable industry and the U.S. agriculture industry.
We appreciate you extending us the opportunity to provide insight into the concerns that the Florida citrus industry has in the battle against imported pests and diseases. We stand ready to support your efforts to pass H.R. 1504 before the close of this legislative session and to begin implementing the recommendations in the Safeguarding American Plant Resources - A Stakeholder Review of APHIS-PPQ Safeguarding System report. The successful movement of these initiatives would greatly help to protect and ensure the long-term viability of Florida's citrus industry.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for your continued support.
Testimony of Bob Crawford
Chairman Pombo, I want to thank you for your leadership in holding this hearing of the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture in Florida and for your personal efforts to draw attention and remedy to the increasing impact of foreign invasive pests and diseases upon agriculture in this state and this country. I am Bob Crawford, commissioner of agriculture of the State of Florida.
You are calling attention to what is an almost invisible but highly damaging enemy against the economies of our individual states and the nation. Agriculture in the United States is being severely threatened not only by competition from abroad, low prices and increasing environmental demands but by the more serious enemy of plant and animal pests and diseases entering our country and our state each day. Do not mistake my position. I support increasing and expanding our markets; for without increased trade our agriculture will not remain strong. However, we can not remain strong with the continued onslaught of foreign invasive pests and diseases entering our shores each day. Nor can we enjoy trade with many nations who prohibit shipments from our state and Nation once these pests and diseases have been introduced.
I fully believe that the future of our Florida agricultural economy demands that we continue to pursue market opportunities for our commodities overseas, and I am actively pursuing that with our international marketing program, with industry and with international trade missions and contacts.
Foreign invasive pests and diseases may represent the single largest threat to our state's agricultural economy. Not only must we have better methods of prevention and detection, but we must demand strict compliance of the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures by all our trading partners. Globalization of trade is a reality representing both great opportunity and severe threat.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Invasive plant and animal pests and diseases:
Damage our growers, producers and agriculture production
Severely impact our ability to trade our products in the global marketplace
Injure our fragile environment with the introduction of non-native invasive species , and
Drain the budgets and resources of state and Federal Government to attack and eradicate.
On the environment threat, the January 22 edition of the Orlando Sentinel in an editorial entitled ''Protect the Investment'' began ''From the hydrilla smothering countless lakes to the walking catfish and Asian eels lurking in South Florida canals, the state has become a veritable breeding ground for non-native wildlife.'' The editorial was written after a request was made to import and showcase piranhas from Peru. All of these non-native species wreak havoc in our environment.
The State of Florida has one of the most diverse agricultures and environments in the United States. Our growers produce over 250 different crops commercially with an economic impact of over $54 billion and with cash receipts to growers and livestock owners of over $6 billion. Additionally, over $2.5 billion in cash receipts goes to landowners for the timber harvested in our state. Twenty percent of all agriculture produced in Florida is exported abroad.
As Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, I take great pride in the fact that we are among the leading agriculture states in the nation. We are second in the Nation in the production of fruits and vegetables. We are No. 1 in citrus; No. 1 in fresh tomatoes; No. 1 in sugarcane; No. 1 in foliage plants; leaders in honey, strawberries, a large variety of winter vegetables and tropical fruits; and the list goes on. Florida is a prolific and diverse agricultural producer. Being the southern most State, our climate and location give us some agricultural advantages, and are of great importance to the United States' agricultural well being. However, the same factors that give us an advantage unfortunately, also contribute greatly to the high risk of exotic pest and disease introductions here.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our State is a world beacon for tourist travel both domestic and international. Our 21 international ports and airports receive and ship thousands of international shipments daily. Orlando International Airport will exceed 30 million passengers this year. The Port of Miami receives cargo from 144 countries from the Caribbean to Africa and Asia and the Miami International Air Cargo receives shipments from 81 different countries. Introductions of pests and diseases are not just potential threats. We regret that daily our state is faced with the reality of such introductions.
We are under attack. While our diverse agriculture and our strong international trade and tourism are strengths, they are also weaknesses and vulnerabilities. For the five fiscal years of 1994 through 1999 our state and our agriculture bore costs of over $267 million dollars to eradicate, control and research newly introduced plan and animal pests and diseases. This included $57 million appropriated by our legislature in state funding for our department's efforts, $51.4 million in Federal funding, $20 million in University research efforts on control and approximately $144 million spent by the industry directly on government mandated quarantine, control and eradication efforts. Additionally, the agriculture industries in our state estimate that for those 5 years alone they experienced a $895 million sales loss for the pests and diseases documented.
Some of the foreign invaders we have experienced before in the past. Asiatic citrus canker and medfly fall in that category. Others have been introduced into Florida for the first time in the continental United States. During the past five years we have been hit with thrips palmi, several outbreaks of Oriental fruit fly, sweetpotato whitefly, pine shoot beetle, leatherleaf fern anthracnose, tropical soda apple and several gemini viruses of tomatoes to name a few. Once they slip through the safety net, some pests have no chance of being eradicated once introduced. Regrettably, brown citrus aphid and the citrus leafminer fall in that category.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Plants are not the only resources attacked. The list goes on and on with other threats to our animal populations and wildlife . The past two years our beekeeping industry has been severely damaged by the introduction of the African Hive Beetle that has totally destroyed many hives. The introduction of many foreign ticks threatens the lives and health of our livestock and wildlife as well as presenting a threat to human health. In 1997, eight exotic tick species were discovered on reptiles imported into Florida from Africa, Latin American or Asia. During a survey, 28 percent of reptile shipments were found to be positive with 46 percent of the animals tick infested. We regret that in late 1999 we now have 9 Florida counties infested with foreign tick species. For several years I have been calling upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist in preventing the introduction of foreign ticks which we found were arriving on our shores on African tortoises, snakes and other reptiles coming into the U.S. for the growing exotic pet trade. USDA has told us that they have no jurisdiction over these importations and that U.S. Fish and Wildlife are the only ones who can stem this tide The Miami International Airport received over 116,000 shipments of these reptiles from Africa in one year.
Many of the foreign ticks being introduced are of critical concern as known vectors or carriers of human and animal disease. Perhaps, the most important to us at this time is the Amblyomma ticks, known carriers of African heartwater disease, which could decimate the cattle industry and the wildlife population in this country. I regret some of the ticks were found just this past month infected with the rickettsial organism that causes the heartwater disease. I am thankful we have not detected the disease in animals yet. We are fearful. We can not continue to stem theses attacks. If these were deliberate acts, they would constitute the worst kind of bioterrorism.
Why is Florida at risk and also a sentinel for new exotic pest and disease incursions? It's not really a hard case to make. Florida has a very temperate/subtropical climate, and is a peninsular State with over 1,000 miles of coastline with 11 deep water ports and 10 international airports. The Miami International Airport is known as the cross roads of the Americas. Miami International Airport handled 8,212,373 International passengers and lead the Nation in perishable cargo entry in 1999. Florida is a popular tourist State, something we are proud of; however, with the influx of visitors comes the risk of hitchhiking pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly, a pest Florida has seen too much of over the past three years. The Miami International Airport also leads the Nation in plant imports with 537,254,449 imported in 1999.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, the protection and enhancement of our rich and abundant agricultural resources is one of my key responsibilities, and as of late this single responsibility has been more than a full time job. Over the last decade, the number of new agricultural pests and diseases introductions has reached unprecedented levels.
Some of the more serious new pests and diseases detected include:
Mediterranean fruit fly 1990, 1997, 1998
Citrus Canker1995, 1997
Brown Citrus Aphid 1995
Citrus Leaf Miner 1993
Asian Citrus Psyllid 1996
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus 1997
Fern Anthracnose 1993
Tropical Soda Apple 1993
Oriental fruit fly 1995, 1999
Guava fruit fly 1999
Small Hive Beetle (a serious honey bee pest) 1998
Exotic Ticks on Imported Reptiles that can vector Heartwater fever (a serious livestock disease that can be transferred to humans) 19981999
And the list goes on . . .
Since 1990 the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry, records indicate well over 100 new exotic species introductions that have some agricultural damage potential. The State/Federal eradication/control cost for these new introductions exceeds $100 million, and impacts on agriculture in quarantines and lost production have also been costly.
The United States Department of Agriculture, the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Division of Plant Industry, have a long and successful history of working together to protect Florida agriculture. We must continue to work together to strengthen agricultural pest and disease exclusion, detection, and response programs. In 1996, largely at the insistence of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, 90 new inspectors were added at the Miami International Airport and the Miami Maritime Port to shore up Agriculture Quarantine Inspection deficiencies. But, more needs to be done. The United States Department of Agriculture, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is to be commended for commissioning the National Safeguarding review, and more importantly for the efforts underway to implement the 300 recommendations resulting from the review.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because Florida is a sentinel area for invasive species introductions and one of the nation's first line of defense, we should be a focal point for additional agriculture protection resources; development of new programs, such as smuggling interdiction teams; improved public relation efforts to educate the traveling public about the need to not give pests a free ride home; and improved exclusion programs at key ports of entry. In addition, the expansion of current programs that have shown promise, including improved x-ray screening technology, the beagle brigade, and pathway assessment would help mitigate pest and disease introductions risks. The safeguarding recommendation to create a $50 million Federal contingency fund to provide immediate resources to battle agriculture pest and disease threats is also a good idea.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has been a leader in the field of agricultural pest and disease detection and response (maybe out of necessity and practice); however, it is increasingly important to look for new ways to battle unwanted invaders. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is always receptive to new agricultural protection tools and have incorporated sterile fly technique, the development of a natural-lite pesticide (Spinosad), and increased traps to address the ongoing threat of fruit fly invasions. But, more research is needed across the board to provide new strategies for problems such as citrus canker that currently requires destruction of host citrus trees.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is currently taking a leadership role in reviewing the exotic invasion agricultural pest threat via a committee established by the Florida Legislature. I am sure, that like the National Safeguarding Review, this review will result in some well-founded recommendations to reduce the pest and disease introduction threat. Congressional support of the initiatives that are identified that impact the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, and require Federal funding will be very important and I would urge you to continue to increase the funding level for agricultural protection programs with emphasis on high risk sentinel areas. The Citrus Canker Eradication Program is also a key program area that we must continue to receive full funding for if we are to ultimately be successful in protecting the Florida citrus industry.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For our animal industries, we need a similar national safeguarding effort to identify recommendations to protect our U.S. livestock and animal resources. I can not stress enough that what slips through the safety net into Florida is basically shipped to all states and around the world. Florida has an ever increasing diversity of livestock production. The last 15 years has brought about dramatic change in varieties from exotic pets, wildlife expositions, alternative species such as ostriches, emus, llamas, eel, buffalo, deer and others species. Unfortunately, our regulatory disease prevention programs and even authorities in the U.S. have not kept up with the rapidly changing populations and the unique issues involving spread of pests and diseases.
Our regulatory agencies, both State and Federal, who are authorized to protect our valuable animal industries can not win the battle with the tools, technology and knowledge of the past. We can not wait years for new scientific advances, new testing procedures, more inspectors and better monitoring. Florida is taking steps necessary to prevent continued spread of problems beyond our borders through establishment of emergency procedures to prevent foreign animal shipment introductions without close scrutiny for pests and by notifying all possible recipients of scheduled shipments. Some of these problems present imposing obstacles to our inspectors in the field. How does one remove and fumigate large snake and other reptiles. Very carefully I am sure. But at the moment we do not even have pesticides approved for such fumigations. Recently we have had cooperative and expedited consultations with EPA, USDA, USFWS and our department to gain approval for emergency use of pesticides that could kill the pests and diseases but not the expensive reptiles.
A major problem however is communication. USFWS recently sent more than 100 tortoises confiscated from a shipment entering the U.S. through New York to Florida and to other states. These tortoises were confiscated because of improper packing and shipping containment resulting in the death of some of the shipment. However, USFWS failed to inform Florida of the translocation to our state. After the tortoises were dispersed in Florida we learned through university researchers that they found the tortoises infested with ticks that could not be identified. These new ticks have been sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory for identification. The ticks appear to be from Asia. Other shipments have been sent to various foreign countries creating a potential for international incident. We have also notified California and other state authorities that also received such shipments so they may follow up on this introductions. We can not continue to stem theses attacks.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Human health is also threatened. Some of the tick introductions are known carriers of human disease. The parasite, Cyclospora, was not known in the United States before 199596 except in returning third world travelers. Now after introduction in raspberries from Guatemala and lettuce from Peru as well as possibly other sources, numerous foodborne illness cases of the parasite have practically become endemic in this country and recent outbreaks have occurred in Canada.
Invasive pest and disease introductions are not just a crisis for the State of Florida. In early 1999, I joined with four of my other colleagues in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas to form the coalition known as NFACT. We represent roughly 25 percent of the cash receipts of U.S. agriculture and 25 percent of the U.S. Congress. We joined together to hopefully gain more attention to the needs of the specialty crops, fruits, vegetables, citrus and livestock that we produce. Though we are a small number of states, we have tremendous strength as agricultural producers and we are all facing major onslaughts of plant and animal pests and diseases.
One of our first NFACT consensus positions was to focus on animal and plant health. NFACT supports research focused on the major plant and animal pests and disease introductions because it is so critical that we have effective weapons to assist our fight. Sanitary and phytosanitary issues must have additional research on better detection and eradication methods. California and Arizona are in current crisis on Red Imported Fire Ants. Regrettably, Florida lost that war long ago and the state is heavily infested. Olive fly, Medfly, Oriental fruit fly all have invaded California in the recent year. Mr. Chairman, since you are from California, you know better than I do the economic damages from introduced pests and diseases in your home state. Each NFACT state is spending millions of dollars as are we in Florida to fight the onslaught. The threat of pests is a constant concern for the NFACT states. I am sure that each of my NFACT partners will also be filing comments with you on this important topic.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC NFACT states are very vulnerable to foreign animal diseases because of our geographic locations and the high volume of foreign trade and travel across our borders. My other fellow NFACT states all represent border states with Mexico and have major concerns on the frequency and effectiveness of our nation's inspection system at the border. During one of our earlier meetings, one of my fellow commissioner's remarked that Florida was also a border stateFlorida is border to the world. With the pests and disease introductions we have faced, this statement is indeed true.
For both plants and animals, at a time when Federal and state regulatory enforcement budgets have been reduced along with personnel and resources, agencies are faced with the urgent task of fighting the escalating wars on foreign invasive pests and diseases. At no time in our history has it ever been more important for state and Federal agencies with overlapping and joint regulatory responsibilities to interface and collaborate to effectively and efficiently prevent and control world-wide plant and animal pest and disease concerns. With increasing international travel and trade, no state or country can isolate themselves. Florida and other southern states and those states with diverse agriculture are particularly vulnerable to introductions.
In summary, foreign invasive plant and animal pests and diseases:
Damage our growers, producers and agriculture production
Severely impact our ability to trade our products in the global marketplace
Injure our fragile environment with the introduction of non-native invasive species , and
Drain the budgets and resources of state and Federal Government to attack and eradicate.
We must continue to work together to strengthen agricultural pest and disease exclusion, detection, and response programs. Florida should be a focal point for additional agriculture protection resources; development of new programs, such as smuggling interdiction teams; improved public relation efforts to educate the traveling public about the need to not give pests a free ride home; and improved exclusion programs at key ports of entry.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We must have better strategies and weapons in this escalating war. Again, thank you for you interest and leadership in this critical issue and for scheduling this hearing to receive input from all who face this onslaught.
Statement of Adam Putnam
Mr. Chairman, members, thank you for the opportunity to testify and share with you some of the critical issues Florida Agriculture is facing as a result of the invasion of exotic plants, pests, and diseases.
I am a fifth generation Floridian, and a citrus and cattle grower here in Polk County. I also serve as a state legislator where I chair the Committee on Agriculture. My district encompasses much of the citrus, cattle and phosphate producing areas in our state. I do not purport to be a disinterested third party on this issue. On the contrary, I am personally committed to improved inspection, detection, and eradication procedures.
Agricultural cash receipts in Florida totaled $6.1 billion in 1997, giving the state an economic impact of over $54 billion. When silviculture and aquaculture are included, agriculture is the largest industry in Floridasurpassing even tourism. Nationally, Florida ranks first in the production of sweet corn, citrus, and fresh tomatoes. We produce 80 percent of the oranges and grapefruit grown in the United States, we rank third in the production of beef cattle east of the Mississippi River and are home to the largest commercial dairy operations in the southeast. Despite serious damage inflicted on our industry by NAFTA, we, along with our friends from California, continue to supply much of America's fresh fruits and vegetables during the winter months.
Florida is also the gateway of the Western Hemisphere, with 10 international airports and 11 deepwater seaports, and handling 113 million tons of gross freight each year valued at nearly $70 billion. Through our borders pass hundreds of thousands of tourists, immigrants (legal, and illegal) and servicemen and women, brought here by cargo ships, cruise ships, pleasure boats, airlines, private planes, and even inner tube rafts. Additionally, natural migratory patterns of birds, floating debris and climate conditions, coupled with our close proximity to Cuba and other Caribbean nations, punctuate the porous nature of our borders. Succinctly, Members, it is physically impossible to fully safeguard Florida's borders from unwanted visitors of all shapes and species.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Like farmers and ranchers everywhere, we face the perils of the market, Mother Nature, and the demands of retailers and consumers. As if they were not enough, we have adjusted to the increased burden our government places on us through labor, pesticide, land use, and tax laws. We struggle to grow our agribusinessesto achieve a level of financial security in an industry hardly known for its stabilityso that the fruits of our labor may be passed on to the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. Then, after we have passed, our government is still there to intervene and take its share, thus destroying countless numbers of family farms and ranches and unintentionally fueling the demise of American agriculture with the pages of the tax code. These, however, are issues for a different day and a different forum. I offer them not as a digression from today's purpose, but rather to set the table with all the issues all farmers face and to distinguish between the things we can affect as policymakers, and those we cannot.
The exclusion, detection, and eradication of exotic pests and diseases in order to prevent their establishment are attainable. Preventing their introduction is even more cost effective than preventing their establishment as the current battle against citrus canker clearly illustrates. We understand trade policies and their impact on new pest introductions. We regulate commercial air, sea, and surface transportation. And we have a clear idea of the costs of failing to control these pests.
As international travel becomes more popular and affordable, we must do a better job of educating travelers and heightening awareness of the dangers of bringing in undeclared items. We must also establish appropriate penalties for failure to comply with these laws. As additional international trade agreements are considered, invasive and exotic pest issues must be addressed at the negotiation table- not after the fact. As existing agreements take root and blossom, we must prepare for the inevitable rise in new pest and disease introductions and the corresponding need for additional personnel and processes to detect them and prevent them from becoming established. Make no mistake; it is not my position, nor the position of Florida Agriculture that these issues should arbitrarily stand in the way of opening up new markets for our exports and offering new opportunities for Florida growers and ranchers. We must recognize, though, that these are real issues with real costs to the farmer, the consumer, and the environment.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over the last five years, Florida has spent over $267 million to control and eradicate plants, pests and disease. These figures reflect only those pest and diseases that are narrowly defined as agricultural in nature. Other invasives such as the maleleuca tree, which has overtaken much of the Everglades, hydrilla, which has choked out millions of acres of freshwater lakes, and the Australian pine, which threatens the entire Florida Keys ecosystem, are not included in this figure. In 199798 alone, the Florida Department of Agriculture, along with the USDA, spent nearly $50 million to battle the Mediterranean fruit fly in seven counties, while simultaneously fighting citrus canker at a cost of nearly $50 million per year. In a single year, we spent nearly $100 million to fight just two pests!
Florida growers and ranchers have borne $140 million in costs associated with controlling these unwanted tourists, and estimates run in the hundreds of millions in lost sales. The eyes of our world trading partners are upon us, watching our inspection teams, scrutinizing our eradication and quarantine protocols and, in many instances, looking for a reason not to allow our agricultural commodities into their countries. Since the passage of NAFTA in 1993, not one single orange has passed through the Mexican border from Florida. In this case, it is the result of trumped up and baseless phytosanitary concerns tied to the presence of citrus canker. Other nations will need little imagination to similarly use the presence of these pests and diseases to deny our market entry. Just two weeks ago, an inspection team from China made an official visit to ascertain our ability to control the spread of these diseases and the potential threats that existed to their country.
In order for us to effectively wage this battle, the state and Federal Governments must be committed to the same goal: that of preventing the introduction and subsequent establishment of these costly pests and diseases. Governor Bush, Commissioner Crawford, and the Florida Legislature have made significant strides toward that goal. We have established a dedicated funding source for agricultural emergencies such as these. We have committed tens of millions of dollars to research and to the ground level inspection and eradication efforts. We are engaged in an ongoing sterile Medfly preventative release program in high risk of introduction areas. In the greater Miami area alone, Commissioner Crawford has deployed over 1,500 inspectors in our canker eradication program. Last Session, the Legislature authorized the creation of a Pest Exclusion Advisory Committee, led by Commissioner Crawford, to carry out a safeguarding study specific to Florida. The committee's purpose is to review and recommend improvements to our existing inspection, detection, and eradication protocols. Its membership includes representation from USDA/APHIS, and is charged to maximize cooperation between the state and Federal Governments. Recognizing that these pests impact more than just agriculturalists, the panel includes representation from public health officials, the general public, and the environmental community. From our perspective, Florida is bearing its share of the responsibility for the policies and costs these issues require.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is our hope that Congress gives serious consideration to the recommendations of the National Plant Board's review of the national safeguarding system. It is our hope that Florida can customize the national recommendations and dovetail them with our own to create a seamless, streamlined model of state/Federal cooperation and efficiency. If there is anyplace that is ripe for the application of innovative exclusion strategies, emerging technologies, or additional resources, Florida must be a leading candidate. I also ask that you support H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act, sponsored by my congressman, Charles Canady. It is a necessary first step that must be taken if the other recommendations are to be implemented.
Both the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been responsive to our ongoing eradication programs and attentive to the protection of agriculture and food safety. An example of this is the development of the sterile fly release program in high risk, generally urban areas surrounding airports and seaports. The proactive release prevents widespread outbreaks that require intensive spraying from the air and ground to eradicate. This type of innovative approach is better from an environmental perspective, and is conducive to better public relations between the industry and the consumer. I thank you for the Federal participation in this and respectfully request that you continue to support funding for these kinds of programs. Research into efficient, effective new inspection, exclusion, and eradication strategies is vital. I offer our hand to partner with the Federal Government through our respective Departments of Agriculture and land grant institutions to explore new approaches to our common threat.
All of us here today share a common interest in the future viability and prosperity of American agriculture. The issues before you are a direct and immediate threat to that prosperity. More than that, though, they represent a significant threat to the health and well being of the American consumer and our environment. In Florida, we have allowed these issues to be viewed narrowly through the lens of agriculture. With little protest, we have tolerated the misguided myth that eradication dollars and detection efforts in our airport terminals and cruise ship embarkation points are deployed solely for the benefit of the farmer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Imagine the public outcry if Africanized or ''killer'' bees were to become established in the urban neighborhoods and communities that surround our air and sea ports. In the last 2 years, Florida has had 12 findings; mostly inbound from South America and Puerto Rico. Consider the reaction of the environmental community if the African Heartwater tick were to become established in Florida. This tick, in addition to devastating the beef and dairy industries, would also kill 80 percent of the deer population, including the federally endangered Key Deer.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The consequences of failing to adequately address the threats these plants, pests, and diseases pose are much broader than any one industry. We must not allow agriculture alone to shoulder this burden. Invasives and exotics are more than just Florida's problem, more than just agriculture's problem, more even than just America's problem. They are a threat to the health of our citizens and the safety of our food supply. We must resolve to address them as such, and to move forward together- state and Federal Government in partnership with the industry and the consumers we seek to protect.
I submit to you that Florida is ground zero in this escalating war. We stand ready to assist you in any way we can. We have made substantial commitments of our own and we deeply appreciate the support you have given us. I urge you to move forward with improving our national commitment to an agricultural safeguarding system. I assure you that this state looks forward to continuing our partnership with the USDA and other Federal agencies. Together, we can make much needed progress in our agricultural protection programs and ensure the viability of this essential industry for generations to come.
Thank you for your interest in this critical issue.
Statement of Michael J. Stuart
Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) appreciates the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee on the issue of the impact of invasive pests on agriculture. We particularly want to thank Chairman Pombo and Representative Canady for their leadership in addressing this most important issue for fruit and vegetable producers in Florida and elsewhere in the country.
FFVA is an organization comprised of growers of vegetables, citrus, tropical fruit, sugarcane and other agricultural crops. The state's growers lead the Nation in the production of some 19 major agricultural commodities, including oranges, fresh tomatoes, grapefruit, bell peppers, and cucumbers. Florida's unique geographical location in the United States affords growers an opportunity to provide American consumers and export markets with fruit, vegetables, and other seasonal crops during the months of the year when other domestic producers cannot grow and harvest these commodities.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFLORIDA GROWERS AT RISK
Florida's tropical and semi-tropical climate also makes it highly vulnerable to infestation by plant pests and disease. As a result, our members find themselves on the front lines of the battle against exotic pests in the United States. Producers in no other state in the nation, with the possible exception of the Chairman's home state of California, face the constant pest and disease pressures found here in Florida.
Over the past 5 years, our industry has faced a dramatic increase in both the number and intensity of exotic pest and disease detections in Florida. Although well known battles against citrus canker and the Mediterranean fruit fly have garnered most of the media attention, the state battles a variety of other pests and diseases, including thrips palmi, brown citrus aphid, oriental fruit flies, sweetpotato whitefly, tomato yellow leaf curl virus, and many others. The Florida Department of Agriculture estimates as of September 30, 1999, show a 5-year impact for control of these pests at well over $250 million. (Attachment A) That estimate does not include current costs for the on-going citrus canker eradication program in south Florida. When you add in the cost of lost sales for the industry, the numbers skyrocket. The Department estimates the five-year sales loss to Florida agriculture as a result of pest and disease introduction at nearly $900 million.
TRADE, TOURISM AND SMUGGLING
It is no coincidence that the increased frequency of plant pest and disease detection in Florida and elsewhere in the United States has occurred at the same time trade and tourism are at all time highs. With the lowering of trade barriers resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement and other initiatives, imports of fruits and vegetables into our country have more than doubled in the past 10 years. Florida and other states are also seeing record numbers of tourists and other visitors arrive each year. Some 48 million visitors entered Florida through airports, seaports and highways in 1998, an increase of 3.7 percent over the previous year. (Attachment B) Our increasing ethnic diversity has also brought a greater demand for fruits, vegetables and other commodities from pest-infested regions.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, increases in tourism and legitimate trade aren't the only culprits. Smuggling of prohibited fruits, vegetables and other plant material is a significant problem, and is no doubt a major pathway for Medfly, canker and other pests and diseases. During blitzes conducted by the Florida Interdiction and Smuggling Team (FIST)a Federal/state cooperative programofficials have intercepted numerous illegal shipments of fruits and vegetables that were later found to be infested with pests not known to occur within Florida.
All these factorsincreased trade, tourism and commercial smugglinghave combined to put tremendous pressure on the existing pest exclusion and detection programs at the state and Federal levels. It all adds up to a significantly increased risk of plant pest and disease introduction.
USDA RESOURCES LACKING
Unfortunately, the resources and tools available to USDA and state plant health agencies to exclude and detect these pests and diseases have not kept pace with the pressures caused by the increases in tourism, trade and commercial smuggling we've experienced in the past 5 to 10 years. This was confirmed by the General Accounting Office in a 1997 report to Congress, entitled: Agricultural InspectionImprovements Needed to Minimize Threat of Foreign Pests and Diseases. The report pointed out that despite changes to USDA/APHIS' funding and programs, ''inspectors at the ports(are struggling to keep pace with increased workload. Heavy workloads have led to inspection shortcuts, which raise questions about the efficiency and overall effectiveness of these inspections.''
THE SAFEGUARDING REPORT
Recognizing the tremendous challenges USDA/APHIS faced in pest and disease exclusion and detection, the agency contracted with the National Plant Board in 1998 to conduct a formal review of the entire APHIS plant protection and quarantine system. A Review Panel and a panel of some 33 external stakeholders were charged with both reviewing the entire plant safeguarding system, and developing recommendations on how the system could be improved.
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLast July, the Review Panel issued a report, entitled: Safeguarding American Plant ResourcesA Stakeholder Review of the APHIS-PPQ Safeguarding System. (Attachment C) The report contains over 300 recommendations covering a wide variety of topics ranging from the need for legislation to changes in procedure within the agency to the need for more public education.
Recommendation Number 1 in the report is the passage of the Plant Protection Act. We greatly appreciate Rep. Canady's sponsorship of this important legislation. Among the bill's many provisions is a call for significant increases in civil penalties that can be imposed on those who bring illegal fruits, vegetables and other host materials into the United States. The current levels of civil penalties are no longer a deterrent, and are viewed by smugglers merely as a cost of doing business.
FFVA strongly believes the recommendations contained in the Safeguarding report, if implemented, would significantly improve the existing plant protection and quarantine system. Improvements in the system are not only necessary; they are imperative if our industry is to have any chance in the battle against invasive pests and diseases. We, and other grower organizations around the country, are committed to working with USDA in implementing the Safeguarding report's recommendations.
MORE RESOURCES NEEDED
Ultimately more resources and personnel will be needed to fight this battle. We recognize the difficulty in increasing government spending in this era of fiscal restraint. However, in this case, increasing spending makes good sense. As reported by the Florida Department of Agriculture, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in recent years on Medfly and other pest eradication programs in Florida and California alone. Strengthening and improving our pest exclusion and detection capabilities would result in fewer and less expensive eradication programs. Doing this, however, will require additional resources to hire more inspection personnel and fund increased research to improve exclusion, detection and eradication methods. Greater cooperative efforts between state and Federal plant health and quarantine agencies are also needed in order to maximize the use of available resources. This is absolutely essential.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPUBLIC EDUCATION IS CRUCIAL
Improved public education must also be a high priority. Despite the heavy media attention given to Medfly and other high profile infestations, many people simply don't understand the risks associated with bringing contraband fruit or other products into the country. Information programs, such as the ''Don't Spread Med'' program, need to be strengthened. Highly visible and professionally developed posters and notices should be prominently displayed in every air and seaport. And, public service announcements should be provided to radio and television stations in high-risk areas. A better-informed public will be less likely to unknowingly bring prohibited or restricted fruits and vegetables into the country.
PRODUCERS, ENVIRONMENT AND CONSUMERS AT RISK
The fruit and vegetable industry in Florida and elsewhere around the United States has a great deal at stake. Producers are not the cause of the problem, but they are certainly impacted by the introduction of plant pests and diseaseswhether it is lost production or lost markets. We believe implementation of the recommendations of the Safeguarding American Plant Resources report and the passage of the Plant Protection Act are essential elements of a cooperative strategy to reduce the threat and impact of plant pest and disease introduction to not only our agricultural industries, but to the environment and consumers as well. Only then will we begin to make progress in the battle against the introduction of foreign plant pests and diseases.
Statement of Ben Bolusky
Mr. Chairman, I am Ben Bolusky, executive vice president of the Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association (FNGA) based in Orlando, FL. I am very pleased that your subcommittee is holding a hearing here in Florida to review the harmful effects of invasive species on agriculture. I am especially pleased to testify on behalf of both FNGA and the American Nursery & Landscape Association.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC FNGA represents Florida's leading 1,900 production nurseries, landscape firms, retail garden centers and horticultural suppliers. While California is the largest nursery production state, Florida is the second largest with nursery growers' farmgate sales estimated at $1.434 billion in 1997. Florida is the Nation's largest producer of foliage or indoor house plants. As the third largest segment of agriculture in Florida, the nursery and landscape industry employs approximately 140,000 workers in the Sunshine State and makes a $5.4 billion impact on Florida's economy.
The American Nursery &Landscape Association (ANLA) is the national trade association for the nursery and landscape industry. ANLA represents nearly 3,000 production nurseries, landscape firms, retail garden centers and horticultural distribution centers, and the 16,000 additional family farm and small business members of the state and regional nursery/landscape associations.
OVERVIEW OF THE U.S. NURSERY INDUSTRY
The nursery and greenhouse industry is an exciting success story in American agriculture. According to USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS), the nursery and greenhouse industry remains the fastest growing agricultural sector in cash receipts. In 1998, nursery and greenhouse operations had estimated sales in excess of $12 billion. Grower cash receipts from nursery and greenhouse sales have grown steadily over the last two decades and are increasing at approximately $500 million per year. While the number of U.S. farms of all types has declined over the last two decades, the number of nursery and greenhouse farms has increased.
The United States is the world's largest producer and market for nursery and greenhouse crops. These crops represent an important and unique segment of agriculture whose positive impact is felt on the national, State, and community level. In terms of economic output, nursery and greenhouse crops represent the second most important sector in U.S. agriculture, ranking seventh among all commodities in cash receipts, and among the highest in net farm income.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The nursery industry has achieved this growth and success without Federal subsidies or price supports. To continue growing and thriving, we do need the Federal Government's help in safeguarding our industry from invasive plant pests. So our industry has a major stake in USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and State programs to safeguard agricultural and environmental plant resources from harmful invasive plant pests and noxious weeds.
IMPACT OF INVASIVE PLANT PESTS ON THE NURSERY INDUSTRY
Nursery growers produce a vast array of plant varieties. So, when a foreign plant pest slips through the pest exclusion safety net, it almost always finds a niche that harms some aspect of the nursery and landscape industry. Once a pest does become established, our industry often faces market-disrupting quarantines as well as new production challenges. Florida is particularly vulnerable given its subtropical climate and the level of foreign trade and travel entering the State. Recognized as a ''sentinel'' area for pest introduction and establishment, Florida needs to be protected.
SAFEGUARDING REVIEW CALLS FOR NEEDED CHANGES
Given these unique concerns, the industry was pleased to see USDA-APHIS seek the National Plant Board's help in conducting a stakeholder review of efforts to exclude, detect, and respond to pest and weed threats. ANLA's senior director of government relations, Craig Regelbrugge, co-chaired that ''Safeguarding Review'' and we are deeply committed to implementation of its roughly 300 recommendations.
USDA-APHIS recently proposed a rule to increase the user fees levied on foreign travel and commerce. These fees fund most of the pest exclusion activities that occur at airports and ports
of arrival, collectively called Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI). A Federal appropriation supplements the user fee-generated amount. The proposed fee increase is needed to adequately fund these activities. It is also needed for a critical technology upgrade and an expansion of pest detection efforts at and around ports, airports, and places where foreign cargo travels for offloading. Mr. Chairman, we respectfully request and need your leadership to see to it that appropriated and user fee-generated AQI funds are reserved for the purpose intendedensuring the integrity of the plant safeguarding system. We also request your assistance in seeing to it that the AQI-appropriated amount remains adequate to get the job done. We believe the AQI-appropriated amount needs to increase. Critical activities, such as along the Canadian border, are funded by the appropriation, and the Safeguarding Review documented pest risk issues associated with our northern border.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More generally, the Safeguarding Review identified a number of needed actions to ensure that the APHIS plant safeguarding system is effective, science-based, not distorted by political considerations, and implemented in an environment of open and meaningful collaboration with stakeholders. We are encouraged that APHIS is approaching implementation of the review very seriously. We urge Congress to maintain periodic oversight to ensure this commitment continues.
CRITICAL DOMESTIC QUARANTINES IN JEOPARDY
Mr. Chairman, we respectfully request your support for restoration of funds needed to maintain critical domestic quarantine programsmost notably for the imported fire ant. APHIS funding for the imported fire ant quarantine was virtually eliminated for fiscal year 2000. The cost of implementing this quarantinevital to slowing the spread of this serious human health and agricultural pesthas been shared historically by APHIS, its state cooperators, and the regulated industry. Elimination of the Federal share unfairly shifts the funding burden for pest survey and regulatory work to the states and industry alonedespite the clear Federal objective of protecting uninfested areas from this pest. The Federal quarantine also establishes a uniform, consistent set of rules for Florida's producers, and those in other infested states, to certify and ship their product. Again, we request your help in ensuring a continued Federal role.
FNGA & ANLA SUPPORT H.R. 1504, THE PLANT PROTECTION ACT
FNGA and ANLA have been active members of the coalition seeking passage of a Plant Protection Act since a consensus-building effort was initiated in the mid-1990's. Now supporting this legislation is a broad and growing list of national and state trade associations, professional societies, and government agencies all concerned about the impacts of invasive plant pests and noxious weeds. The time for enactment has come. H.R. 1504's enactment will not outright solve all of our invasive pest problems, but will start us on the journey toward a more coherent and effective U.S. pest safeguarding system. In fact, passage of the Plant Protection Act is the No. 1 recommendation of the Safeguarding Review.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The nursery industry relies on effective APHIS and cooperative state programs since entry and establishment of invasive plant pests disrupt the production and marketing of our plants.
H.R. 1504 would consolidate and streamline a confusing web of 11 plant quarantine laws. Many of these laws are almost 100 years old and have been modified very little over the years. While adequate at the time of their passage, they no longer fully address the needs of the U.S. agricultural community in an era of unprecedented international travel and commerce, especially here in Florida.
New trading patterns pose new and dangerous risks. For example, the United States and Canada now routinely intercept dangerous new pests on wood packing materials, such as pallets and crating coming from China and other countries. Solid wood packing materials have brought us the two most recent pests for which Federal quarantines have been invokedthe Asian longhorned beetle and the pine shoot beetle. Both pose serious risks to forestry, natural areas,
and the nursery industry. They are just the two latest examples underscoring the need for more effective pest prevention and response. APHIS and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and its Division of Plant Industries, must be armed with a menu of effective pest detection, prevention, eradication and other response programs to guard against the arrival, and combat the effects, of invasive plant pests and noxious weeds.
H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act, would:
provide a clear statutory framework for APHIS programs designed to prevent entry and establishment of invasive plant pests and noxious weeds;
support a favorable international trade environment for U.S. agricultural producers;
promote the continuing U.S. production of healthy forestry and agricultural products including nursery and greenhouse cropsfor domestic and export markets; and,
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC contribute to stewardship of natural areas and resources.
While the main thrust of this legislation is to streamline and clarify existing authorities, H.R. 1504 would strategically enhance certain APHIS authorities. FNGA and ANLA generally support these enhancements, including:
(1) A stronger framework for managing noxious weeds. Noxious weeds pose the same production headaches for nursery growers as for other farmers. Nurseries spend more money on weed control than any other category of pest management. Invasive plants have become a serious problem in some natural areas of Florida. I am pleased to report that last year FNGA issued a call to growers to phase out production, sale and installation of 11 commercially grown plant species thought to be invasive. Gaps in authorities, and legal interpretations, have weakened APHIS' ability to manage comprehensively the most serious weed threats to U.S. agriculture and the environment. H.R. 1504 would explicitly define ''noxious weeds,' to include plants that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to agriculture and/or the environment. The bill would allow for a streamlined process for listing noxious weeds that would be prohibited or restricted from entering the United States., or subject to restrictions on
interstate movement. H.R. 1504 would also facilitate application of the post-entry quarantine concept to plants with clear potential to become noxious weeds. A period of growth and examination may be needed to adequately evaluate some plants for pest freedom or invasiveness potential.
(2) Enhanced penalty authority. U.S. agriculture and natural areas are at risk. Invasive plant pest introductions ranging from Asian longhorned beetle to citrus canker to the Asian gypsy moth pose a clear and present danger. They demonstrate that the system to safeguard us from these dangers must be strengthened. A growing number of pest invasions are tied to commercial smuggling of prohibited plants, plant products, and other cargoes into the United States.
Unfortunately, civil penalties that may be assessed in the case of smuggling and other quarantine violations are so low as to be viewed as nothing more than ''the cost of doing businessif caught.'' H.R. 1504 would augment civil penalty authority to a level where
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCpotential penalties could serve as a deterrent to illegal activity that threatens U.S. plant resources. To help avoid any potential abuses of civil penalty authority, H.R. 1504 describes factors that shall be considered in determining the amount of any civil penalty.
(3) Balanced approach to state preemption. Under current law, when USDA promulgates quarantine regulations for a specific invasive pest, states are properly preempted from exceeding those Federal requirements. However, states are free to impose their own rules when no Federal rules exist. This historic approach has generally offered a balance between a fair and level playing field for trade and states' rights. That balance is carried forward in H.R. 1504, with a measure of added flexibility for the states. H.R. 1504 would allow USDA to recognize a special need of a locality, State, or states for protection beyond that of a Federal rule. Under this new flexibility, a state or states could petition for the right to exceed the requirements of a Federal quarantineprovided such special need is science-plant based.
The continued growth and success of the US. nursery industry, and indeed all of agriculture, depends on our collective ability to achieve plant protection, pest safeguarding and export facilitation goals. A strong and relevant USDA-APHIS contribution to the overall pest safeguarding effort is critical. The Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association and American Nursery & Landscape Association are confident that H.R. 1504, the Plant Protection Act, will better position APHIS and its State partners to fulfill their increasingly challenging pest
FNGA and ANLA support this timely legislation, and we thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your tremendous leadership on this and other issues of critical importance to the nursery industry. We look forward to working with you to pass H.R. 1504 early in this second session of the 106th Congress.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJames T. Griffiths, Ph.D., Citrus Grower Associates, Inc.
I would like to have the following comments made a part of the record of the field hearing on invasive species on January 31 in Lake Alfred, FL. I attach information required of non-governmental witnesses as well as my vita. Neither Citrus Grower Associates, Inc., nor I, personally, receive any grants or contracts from the Federal Government other than USDA conservation practice contributions to a grove operation, GBS Groves, Inc., of which I am the principal owner and the president.
As a graduate Entomologist and as an active citrus grower, I have been personally and intimately associated with the efforts of APHIS and the Florida State Department of Agriculture to combat the fruit fly and canker invasions over the past half century. Probably the most glaring deficiency which has had more to do with expensive delays and implementation in the past and in the present problems with citrus canker is the result of inadequate funding being available in the initial stages of a campaign, coupled with inadequate funding to assure that destruction of crops and trees, if recognized as a ''taking'', will have fair and just compensation funds available. There is no question that there is a need for stand-by funding, at the Federal level, of perhaps as much as $50 million on a continuing basis which can be used, and automatically replaced, whenever the Secretary of Agriculture considers the need to be justified. There should be matching monies at the State level.
The current citrus canker situation in Florida is a good example of the failure to have adequate funding available and to have that funding coupled with a definitive understanding between the State and the Federal Government on their respective roles. Funding for APHIS, for other than port activities, has been decreased over the past half century. Its ability to participate fully, and sometimes even adequately, in eradication programs has probably been diminished. This matter was exacerbated in the initial canker program a few years ago, when the bringing of a lawsuit by the State of Florida was necessary in order to get agreement for mutual participation. That was unfortunate in terms of having to be initiated at all, and probably even more unfortunate in terms of the rancor and bitterness that remain on the part of some individuals because of the outcome.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This past year offers an excellent example. Last May, the technical group held a meeting at the Orlando Horticultural laboratory at which there was a very frank discussion of the need to expand the 125 foot buffer zone around an infected tree. This appeared to be particularly true in the urban Miami area. The committee very solidly recommended that we go to, at least, a 1,900 foot buffer zone. There were specific recommendations made at some of the Canker Committee's meetings that efforts should be concentrated on the north and the south margins of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale infected area with the introduction of a 1,900 foot buffer zone there whenever infected trees were found. This was to be an effort to contain the disease within that core area. There have been difficulties with hiring new personnel. There was the complicated political situation associated with the lack of a compensation program for urban home owners, as well as commercial growers. There is no question that the entire program has been understaffed in that heavily populated area.
What has now occurred in the Homestead area makes it obvious that the proper job was not done. Persian limes are considered to be much less susceptible than grapefruit or key limes, but it's clear that the manner in which they were kept under surveillance has turned out to be inadequate. This is undoubtedly a function, both at the state and the Federal level, of inadequate funding to maintain survey crews in the field.
It is also a major failure of the unwillingness of decision makers to proceed with the 1,900 foot barrier in the populated area because of the political pressure that would have come from the inability to pay any compensation to urban home owners whose door yard trees were destroyed. At the beginning of the summer, there was failure on the part of the Federal Government to have any funds available and furthermore the General Counsel's Office of the USDA was unwilling to interpret law in a manner to make funds immediately available which were considered by many to be clearly in that category. To what extent that represents rancor from the lawsuit is not documented, but it must be recognized as a potential problem. There is no effort here to be pointing a finger of criticism at any individual or any agency, but rather to point out that both the state and the Federal agencies share a joint responsibility for failing to be fully aware, and on the part of the Appropriation Committees, both State and Federal, to provide adequate funding in a manner to be constantly available to deal with such threats.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If American agriculture is to continue to exist and provide the American public with a healthful, wholesome food source at modest prices, in spite of onerous labor, social, and environmental regulations, a level playing field for all of us needs to be created so that we can compete with foreign growers as trade barriers and tariffs are reduced for produce coming into the United States. We must have adequate funding at the Federal level to assure that we have the ability to make early detections and to successfully eradicate invasive pests.
Adequate stand-by funding has to be available on a continuing and permanent basis.