Enforcement of a new state regulation to force trucks carrying bulk citrus to be tarped to the bed of the trailer was suspended until further notice. The rule went into effect March 1.
The reason given in the announcement, which was apparently first shared with citrus industry officials via e-mail then at the California Citrus Mutual’s annual Citrus Showcase in Visalia, was to give citrus operations time to comply with the new rule.
California officials adopted the new rule to prevent the spread of the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) which can “hitchhike” on loads of citrus. Spread of the ACP can be traced to this and has been surmised as new discoveries of the pest continue along major transportation corridors in Central California and the California Coast.
The tarping rules require loads of bulk citrus to be fully covered, regardless of origin or destination. It does not matter whether the loads must travel a quarter mile or 200 miles – they must be tarped.
Though enforcement was suspended, officials expect loads to be covered “in the spirit of the regulation.”
While enforcement tends to fall on county agricultural departments, they have no authority to stop a moving vehicle. As such, new rules are being worked out to give law enforcement – namely the California Highway Patrol and local sheriffs – authority to stop and cite trucks not in compliance with the state quarantine rules.
In the meantime, the California Department of Food and Agriculture continues to process and return compliance agreements.