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USDA lifts European grapevine moth quarantine in four California counties

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service announced June 5 the eradication of European grapevine moth from Fresno, Mendocino, Merced and San Joaquin counties in California and the removal of restrictions on exports of EGVM host commodities, including stone fruit and table grapes, from those counties to Mexico.

"The removal of these counties from the European grapevine moth quarantine will save stone fruit and table grape growers an estimated $10 million a year," Rebecca Blue, deputy under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said in a press release. "USDA is committed to partnering with our stakeholders in the fight against invasive pests and doing our part to minimize their impact on agricultural trade and export markets for American agricultural products."

After the first detections of EGVM in California in 2009, APHIS and its state partners began working together to detect, delimit and control the spread of the pest through outreach, surveys, quarantine enforcement and grower-led treatments costing an average of $10 million per year. APHIS declared eradication in these four counties after two years of surveillance resulted in no new detections of the pest.

After the detection of EGVM in California in 2009, Mexico also began requiring additional treatments on exports of fresh table grapes and stone fruit from counties under quarantine for the pest.

"APHIS supplied Mexican agricultural officials with surveillance data and official notification that EGVM has been eradicated from the four counties in California," Ms. Blue said. "APHIS' removal of these counties from the EGVM quarantine triggered Mexico's removal of restrictions on exports of EGVM host commodities, providing much-needed economic relief for growers."

Mexico is one of the top five export markets for American table grapes and the third-largest importer of American fresh stone fruit. In 2011, California exported to Mexico 3.4 million cartons of fresh stone fruit, valued at $45 million, and 5.7 million boxes of fresh table grapes, valued at $102.1 million. Fresno, Mendocino, Merced, and San Joaquin counties are a part of the primary production area of fresh U.S. stone fruit and table grapes.

The Obama Administration, with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, has aggressively worked to expand export opportunities and reduce barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to record levels in 2011 and beyond.

U.S. agriculture is currently experiencing one of its best periods in history thanks to the productivity and resourcefulness of producers. Today, net farm income is at near-record levels while debt has been cut in half since the 1980s.

Overall, American agriculture supports one in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, boost economic growth and support President Obama's National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014.