Agriculture inspection program loses funding
July 3, 2003
Due to budget cuts from the State of California, Truckee’s agriculture inspection station will not be hiring its usual seasonal employees and will be scaling down its operation to checking mainly commercial vehicles, RVs and moving vans.
As many motorists have noticed, there has been minimal inspection for private vehicles lately at the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s station near the Donner Lake interchange.
CDFA Director of Public Affairs Steve Lyle said, “When the budget is passed, we anticipate it will be a $ 1.37 million loss for the agriculture inspection program.”
The good news for the regular inspection station employees here in Truckee, though, is there will be no layoffs for now. In fact, Lyle said their hours would not be affected either – the CDFA simply will not be able to hire its usual seasonal employees.
Bill London, Truckee plant quarantine supervisor, said the budget cuts do have a big impact on the inspection station. “All the cars are just getting a free pass,” he said. “Who knows what kind of pests these people are bringing from back east?”
For the seasonal workers, though, it creates a bigger problem and has a bigger impact, London said. “These guys got paid pretty well. For them, it hurts.”
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The Truckee station is not alone, as Lyle said all other inspection stations in California are feeling the effects of the budget cuts. According to Lyle, all the inspection stations in California will be “redirecting the focus of the program,” and inspecting mainly commercial vehicles. However, he said they still reserve the right to inspect any vehicle passing through.
“There is always a risk in California” of some contaminated produce passing through the border, Lyle said. “It is more logical to inspect the commercial vehicles, RVs and moving vans (than private vehicles).”
Although the threat of the fruit fly has all but died out, Lyle said there was a gypsy moth that slipped past the California border with a family on their way to Marin County in 2000. That case alone, he said, was enough to justify the agriculture inspection program.
Lyle added that despite the reduction of the inspections, the program is still valuable. He said there has been “many credible, valid programs” that have had to cut their operations because of the budget cuts.
Until (or if) the funding returns, Lyle said, the inspection station will continue with its current, limited inspections.