The California Department of Food and Agriculture has amended its rules for importing cherries into the state, narrowing damages if fruit fly larvae are found at a Washington state packer.
In a break from previous policy, California will bar only the fruit from the orchard block where the infested cherries originated. Previously, the packer faced being suspended by California for the rest of the season, affecting other growers.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture negotiated the rule change after fruit fly larvae were found last year at a Washington packer. No estimate was available of how much the discovery cost cherry growers.
Washington Tree Fruit Association President Jon DeVaney said the states came to an agreement once the industry raised the issue. “It’s a story of government working the way it should,” he said.
The new rules also apply to cherries grown in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah.
Washington leads the U.S. in sweet cherry production. Sweet cherries were Washington’s eighth most-valuable crop in 2018, with a value of $426.5 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.