Cherry permits simplified
The multiple permits required to ship fresh Northwest cherries to California have been rolled into one.
California has agreed to simplify the permits for shipping Northwest fresh sweet cherries into California, starting this season.
In the past, cherry shippers in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho had to obtain one of about ten to 15 different permits in order to ship fresh cherries to or through California, depending on their origin, route, and destination.
Jim Quigley, manager of the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Inspection Division, said the number of different permits California required just kept increasing from year to year.
For example, if the cherries were exported through San Francisco or Los Angeles International Airports, shippers needed permits that required the fruit to be transported along predetermined routes avoiding California’s cherry growing areas, even though the cherries were in sealed cartons in the truck. Different permits were required for cherries trucked through California to Mexico and for cherries sold in California.
Other special permits were required, depending on the origin of the cherries, Quigley said. For example, different permits were required for cherries grown in Montana, Canada, or Oregon that had been shipped to Washington for packing.
But in mid-May, the California Department of Food and Agriculture agreed to consolidate the requirements into a single permit for any fresh Northwest cherries shipped to California.
Quigley said the multiple permits imposed an administrative burden and welcomed the change. “I think it’s going to be very positive,” he said.
Gary Leslie, supervisor with the CDFA’s pest exclusion branch, said the single permit will simplify the regulatory enforcement of the quarantine measures, though there are few changes in the procedures. California still requires sampling of cherries, in addition to the supplying states’ own quarantine inspections, and border inspections.
Quigley said only three fruit fly larvae were found in Washington cherries last season.
Leslie said it’s because very few fruit flies have been found in Northwest cherries that California had the confidence to ease up a little on the requirements. In the future, the department will place more emphasis on checking cherries to be sold in California than on fruit transiting through the state, as long as there is confidence that those cherries will leave California and not end up on the market there.
Before this season, Washington was unable to obtain a permit for bulk cherries from California that are packed in Washington and shipped back to California because of concerns about cherry fruit fly contamination. Leslie said there would be a new and separate permit for such cherries. They won’t need to be sampled, but they will need paperwork verifying that they are California cherries.