Officials: Quarantine zone for grapevine moth shrinks

State and federal agriculture officials announced Friday they have greatly reduced the quarantine area for European grapevine moth in the North Bay.

Approximately 240 square miles of land have been removed from quarantine. That leaves 446 square miles in the quarantine area, nearly all of it in Napa County. All of Solano County has been lifted from the quarantine, and for Sonoma County, only a small section west of Calistoga remains in the restricted area.

The pest primarily damages grapes, but has also been known to feed on other crops and plants. It was first found in Napa County in 2009.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross called the decision good news.

“We must now continue our efforts and ultimately rid California of the European grapevine moth,” Ross said in a statement.

Grapes are the top agricultural plant commodity grown in California with a production value of $6.9 billion in 2012.

Workshop on animal welfare program scheduled on Sept. 8

Ranchers can learn about the benefits of certification by the Animal Welfare Approved program at a free workshop Sept. 8 in Santa Rosa sponsored by the UC Cooperative Extension.

Speakers will include the program’s Beth Spitler and Stephanie Larson, the cooperative extension’s livestock and range management advisor.

The free animal welfare program, which provides ranchers with a third-party certifier, “is the most highly regarded food label when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming and sustainability,” according to the cooperative extension.

The workshop will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the cooperative extension office, 133 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa.

USDA seeks to lift ban on Chinese citrus fruit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to lift a ban on imports of fresh Chinese citrus fruit.

The announcement came one week after China said it had reopened its doors to American citrus exports.

Under the proposed rule, China can ship to the U.S. mandarin oranges, pomelos, sweet oranges, Satsuma mandarin and ponkan if it checks that there are no pests or plant disease.

The agency said the Chinese fruit would compete with U.S.-grown citrus, though the impact would be limited.

“The quantity of oranges imported from China is likely to be relatively small,” the USDA said. “The majority of China’s fresh orange exports, mostly navel oranges, go mainly to Russia and to neighboring countries in Asia. China’s fresh orange exports to North America, mainly to Canada, are very limited.”

The loosening trade in citrus comes as the U.S. is still trying to win access for American rice and beef. Meanwhile China is lobbying the U.S. to allow for fresh poultry exports, a move that has triggered concern among food safety advocates.

Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com.