UC ANR scientists discuss invasive species with congressional members
UC ANR academics met with staff for California members of Congress via Zoom on Oct. 12 to discuss invasive species and pest management. Integrated pest management research is funded through the federal Farm Bill, which is up for renewal in 2023.
“The 2023 Farm Bill is right around the corner and it is the perfect time for UC ANR researchers, staff and volunteers to meet with policymakers and demonstrate the impact and return on investment of federal funding for Cooperative Extension throughout California,” said Anne Megaro, government and community relations director.
Jim Farrar, UC Integrated Pest Management Program director; Georgios Vidalakis, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Riverside; Jhalendra Rijal, UC IPM advisor; Cindy Kron, UC IPM advisor; Andrew Sutherland, urban IPM advisor; Tom Getts, UCCE weed ecology advisor; and Missy Gable, director of the UC Master Gardener Program; and UC Master Gardener volunteer Linda Haque met with Chloe Koseff, who represented Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Angela Ebiner, who represented Senator Alex Padilla.
The group discussed how pest prevention is key, comparing the cost to mitigate established pests to the cost of preventing new pests and diseases from entering California.
Gable and Haque shared how the local UC Master Gardener hotline in Los Angeles played a critical role in elevating the first recorded sighting of Asian citrus psyllid in California, and how the UC Master Gardener Program continues to work closely with researchers like Vidalakis to share science-based information on pest management.
Sutherland discussed the human health hazards of urban pests including cockroaches and bed bugs. Farrar and Rijal provided an overview of IPM in California and the importance of the UC IPM program.
Vidalakis, Rijal, Sutherland and Gable also discussed those subjects with House Agriculture Committee staff members Malikha Daniels and Emily Pilscott.
Chris Greer, UC IPM advisor, and Gable met with Tanner Dorrough, staff member for Rep. Salud Carbajal, who represents residents in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. They discussed soilborne diseases in berries and use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, on farms.
Richard Smith, UCCE vegetable crops advisor, and Gable met with Sam Harris, staff member for Rep. Jimmy Panetta, whose district includes Salinas, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Smith discussed impatiens necrotic spot virus and thrips in lettuce and the “Orwellian” experience of seeing vast swaths of dead lettuce fields surrounded by red skies and smoke from nearby fires. Gable described the UC Master Gardeners' demonstration garden in Watsonville where they teach IPM, how to read pesticide labels, weed management and more.
Getts, Gable and UC Master Gardener volunteer Kay Perkins met with Alexandra Lavy, staff member for Rep. Doug LaMalfa, whose district includes the northeast corner of California, Chico and Redding. Getts discussed the role of IPM advisors solving current problems of the local community, using invasive grasses in grazing lands and wildfire risks, grasshopper populations as examples. Perkins described the UC Master Gardener demonstration garden at Patrick Ranch Museum where they teach and demonstrate IPM and sustainable landscaping practices. They also offer adult education classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at local libraries.
Rijal, Vidalakis, Farrar and Haque met with Alexa Fox, staff member for Rep. Jim Costa, whose district extends from Merced to Fresno. Rijal discussed navel orangeworm management in almond orchards and spotted winged drosophila in cherry orchards. Haque described the outreach materials UC Master Gardener developed with IPM advisors to educate the public about these pests.
“We made several great connections and we are busy following up on issues discussed and setting up tours for staff in California,” Megaro said.