U.S. House Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse of Washington and Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Administrator Kevin Shea regarding the spread of little cherry disease (LCD) and its impacts on sweet cherry growers across the United States, according to a news release on Aug. 20. 

In a recent visit to Central Washington, Newhouse and Thompson, the House Agricultural Committee Republican leader, met with tree fruit growers to discuss the industry’s ongoing challenges, including little cherry disease.

In the letter to the USDA, dated Aug. 20, the representatives said: “We write to you today concerning the emergence of Little Cherry Disease (LCD), currently impacting United States sweet cherry growers. We appreciate the attention that Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissey has paid to this issue in meeting with representatives of the cherry industry last month.”

They noted LCD has reached epidemic levels in Washington state, is spreading in Oregon, and cases have been reported in California and Utah. 

“As the battle against LCD continues, we respectfully request the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service continue to work with the cherry industry and allocate additional resources to research and testing capacity to eradicate LCD,” they said in the letter. 

Industry organizations also provided statements in support of the request, including Mark Powers, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council.

“Little Cherry Disease (LCD) is having a serious impact on the Pacific Northwest cherry industry and continues to spread at an alarming rate. We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Newhouse and Ranking Member Thompson in raising the need to dedicate funds to critical research and testing needs with APHIS. Without swift action, LCD will continue to attack more and more orchards,” he said.

—by Jonelle Mejica