Farmers lobby for regulations

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor, Your Observer

EAST COUNTY — Janet Mixon looks out on rows and rows of citrus trees at Mixon Fruit Farms. Until 15 years ago, the 50-acre property had trees from the 1800s producing juicy oranges. Today, all the trees on the property have been replaced — some several times — due to citrus canker and citrus greening, diseases carried to the United States from foreign soil. Citing an incident at Port Manatee in late June, in which U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office specialists found a first-in-port pest from Mexico (meaning it was the first time the pest was discovered in the port), Mixon says the United States needs to do more to prevent invasive species from wreaking havoc on American farms. The insect, an Ozophora consanguine Distant, which typically targets grain crops, was found on a rambutan fruit, which was packaged with bananas and mangosteen. The container and its commodities were sent back to Mexico. Janet Mixon and her husband, Dean, co-owner of Mixon Fruit Farms and a lifelong citrus grower, headed Sunday to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and other legislators to discuss controls on imported produce and other goods. “This was one reminder,” Janet Mixon said of the incident at Port Manatee. “To me, the fact they wait until it gets here (is a problem). It’s such a grand idea to let (produce) in; but it’s basically illegal immigration. It’s letting the (pests) in and letting (farmers) deal with it.” The Mixons say the United States should have tighter controls on agricultural products entering the country to better prevent such incidences like the one at Port Manatee.

“The regulation should start on their side. It should be taken care of before it goes near land.” – Janet Mixon
Read more at: