House passes important research programs for agriculture

Jul 11, 2009
News Articles

Lake County News

Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) joined 265 of his colleagues in voting for the Agriculture Appropriations Act.

This bill will help protect Americans' food safety, boost rural economies, protect Americans against price fluctuations for necessities and help feed struggling families. In this bill, Congressman Thompson secured $27 million in funding for several agricultural research projects that are important to Sonoma County.

Included in the bill was $24.5 million to fight Pierce's disease, a major threat to California agriculture that has spread to other states.

In the late 1990s, this disease was responsible for the complete destruction of more than 1,000 acres of grapevines in Temecula. This funding will be allocated to plant inspection programs and viticulture research institutions.

“We cannot let up in the fight against Pierce's disease, and its vector, the glassy winged sharpshooter,” said Congressman Thompson. “Our local economy, from the tourist industry to the farming community, would be devastated if Pierce's disease spread throughout our district. And while we've made progress, recent events underscore the need for aggressive actions. Glassy winged sharp shooter eggs were found on plants shipped to Napa and Sonoma Counties. We can't rest in our fight against this disease.”

“Pierce's Disease could be more devastating than Phyloxxera in that we have no cure much less an environmentally acceptable cure as we did with Phyloxxera. With Phyloxxera we could replace rootstocks. The only available remedy for Pierce's today is some chemical toxin,” said winegrape grower Andy Beckstoffer.

“I applaud Congress for passing this bill, because it's extremely important to our industry,” said Ron Bartolucci of Bartolucci Vineyards. “The glassy winged sharpshooter infects grape vines with a very devastating disease, Pierce's disease, and the funding that will be available to control that insect, and provide necessary funding for research to resolve the problem will be very important to our industry, and our industry's future, because without it, it could devastate us.”

The bill also contained $2.15 million in funding for Sudden Oak Death, Research and Control.

Sudden Oak Death is a fungus-like pathogen that has decimated oak trees, and can even infect other plant species like our prized Redwood trees. This disease has stricken at least 12 of California's counties and has spread to the Pacific Northwest. This funding will be allocated to the research, eradication and control of this pathogen.