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  1. Default Inspection Stations on Interstate Highways??

    Yesterday I entered California for the first time by car. On I-40 somewhere near Needles, I encountered an inspection station, "All vehicles MUST stop". As I drove up, the inspector in the next lane was examining the rear end of the car in that lane. When I got up to the inspector in my lane, he asked, "Where are you coming from?", "Do you have any fruits and vegetables?", "Do you have any plants or animals?". I was waiting for him to ask for my passport. What the heck? I know many years ago, Arizona used to stop cars searching for fruits and whatever, but they cut that out years ago. So what is California's problem? I could give those people something better to do, like maybe shipping them down to the border with Mexico and have them check for illegal entrants.

    Fortunately, he accepted that I was from Louisiana, and had none of the items in question. But what if I had one or more pets with me, a dog or cat? Would there have been a problem? Will they frisk me again as I leave the state?

    Talk about a foolish waste of money. No wonder California is crying because it's broke - again.

    Do any other states have these ridiculous inspection stations? I've never encountered another in my travels. I could understand at an international border crossing, but at a state line?!! Sheeesh!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Ahem!

    You need to understand that the California economy is built on agriculture. It and support services account for $100 billion dollars annually.

    These inspections stations are used to ensure that potential pests that might decimate an entire crop are found and removed at the border. California's geography is such (mountains and deserts) that the agricultural heart of the state is protected from the NATURAL ingress of pests. Then came the humans, and transportation.

    Between the medfly, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, and phyloxera California has lost BILLIONS of dollars in crops and remedial activity to address infestations.

    No, we don't care about your pets, and we won't be stopping you on your way out.

    Here's a description of the program if you want more information:

    Here's the key snippet from this link:

    About Our Stations

    California’s Border Protection Stations (BPS) are the first line of defense in our pest exclusion efforts. At these stations, vehicles are inspected for commodities infested with invasive species. California established its first agricultural inspection stations in the early 1920s. Today there are 16 of these facilities located on the major highways entering the State (see interactive map below).

    In 2008, more than 22.1 million private vehicles and 7.3 million commercial vehicles were inspected at the BPS. From these vehicles, inspectors rejected over 43,000 lots of plant material (fruits, vegetables, plants, etc.) because they were in violation of California or federal plant quarantine laws.

    From these interceptions, inspectors found and submitted 9,314 specimens (i.e., insects, diseases, weeds, mollusks and vertebrate animals) to CDFA’s Plant Pest Diagnostics Lab for identification — over 2,500 of these specimens were exotic invasive species capable of causing serious damage. Among these were: Gypsy moth, Asian citrus psyllid, quagga mussel, imported fire ant, cherry fruit fly, Japanese beetle, spotted knapweed, cedar–apple rust, and glassy–winged sharpshooter (just to name a few).

    One last thought: if you ever travel to Hawaii, you will find a similar program in reverse; you have to go through ag control on the way OUT, to ensure that no tropical bugs make it back to the states (all of them, not just California).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default could be even worse!

    If you think California is bad, try traveling beyond the border of the US. Traveling between Mexico and most countries in Central America, the first thing you'll have to do (before you even get to the border checkpoint, is stop and to have your car sprayed with a pesticide - at your own expense!

    At least the California stops take at most a few minutes and they don't cost you anything.

  4. Default Thanks for your response

    So why ask where I was coming from? Why ask about animals? What kind of animals are they afraid will destroy their crops?

    Would one or two clean store-bought bananas really throw off Cal's agricultural abundance? Really? I was thanking myself for not buying the bananas I was considering the night before.

    Yes, I do understand Hawaii has inspections to check what leaves their state, but in Hawaii's case, I can understand it. After all, we just can't drive in and out of there, so they, by locality, have a more reasonable case, and can do all the inspecting they want. Of course, Arizona's bugs just can't fly into California, can they, without their permits? Now I understand why I-15 is always so backed up from Las Vegas to L.A.

    Nevertheless, it's a baffling thought, especially when bugs can just fly over state borders with ease.

    One would think they would check at the state line instead of miles into CA. What happens to the bugs which have already entered within the first few miles?

    I probably sound sarcastic, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, considering that there are no domes over the state to keep things from entering.

  5. Default Traveling to other countries isn't the problem

    I understand the border crossings, different countries, etc. Not that keeping bugs from Mexico out of the US is any easier than keeping them from crossing into California from other US states. But nations have their own strange rules, and if we want to visit, we have to abide by them.

    I just think it odd that California, being a US state, has the stations, when the state is so strapped for cash.

    Now I'd understand if people were trucking fruits, etc., in by the bushels to sell in California, but since they are stopping everyone, it's just odd.

    I won't even mention the pesticide spraying of airplane interiors (and people) which goes on in other countries!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default you've missed much of the point

    As was already stated, a large part of why the policy is effective in California is because of its Geography. Most of the State's agriculture is in the Central Valley and Coastal areas, which are protected by both deserts and mountains. Those geographic features are the "dome" that protects most of the agriculture from natural invaders. The potential problems come from bugs and other things that can only make their way into the ecosystem by being brought in via cars and trucks - and it doesn't take a truckload of fruit to bring in one invading pest.

    Driving a couple miles into the state, where you're still in the deserts still keeps you a very long way from where these pest can do so much damage.

    And as far as the cost goes, again, Agriculture is a huge portion of the California economy. Paying inspectors to keep those pests out is a very small price and insurance policy against the billions if not trillions of dollars that agricultural pest could cost to the state economy.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Heard of wine?

    Back to the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Comes from your neck of the woods, the Southeast. Carries a disease that kills grapevines.

    Seems we have a lot of grapevines in this state, and a lot of money and a lot of jobs depend on them. Somehow, in spite of all the state's efforts, this nasty bit of work was introduced to the state in 1990. Millions of dollars are now being spent to prevent the spread beyond where it currently exists, to eridicate if possible, AND TO KEEP NEW INFECTIONS FROM BEING INTRODUCED INTO AREAS OF THE STATE THAT DON'T CURRENTLY HAVE ANY OF THESE GUYS!

    Sorry for shouting, but this is serious business. And if you think it can't impact you, wait until you see what your groceries prices become if California agriculture ceases. As it is, serious money is currently being spent/lost because of this particular pest... all because it somehow managed to slip through our cordon. Perhaps somebody lied about that bush in the trunk they were bringing to Aunt Mabel in Azusa from Mobile.

    Here's something from the University of California at Davis (our Ag school, and the school my daughter and son-in-law graduated from, and my stepson attends) on this particular pest (just one of thousands we have to worry about):

    Lastly, this shows that California accounts for 13% of the nation's agricultural production, slightly more than the next two states combined. We're not just movie stars and politicians out here (but I'm being redundant).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default questions questions...

    The reason they want to know where you came from is to see if you're possibly from an area with a troublesome infection or an area known to be "safe". The results of that question will drive further conversation/investigation.

    Animals carry diseases too; but I'm not aware of any particular pet issues, and I don't believe dogs and cats are quarantined at the border. Chickens, pigs, iguanas, may be a diffferent story, and ferrets are for sure illegal in this state.

    ...and it didn't take a bushel of fruit to introduce the aforementioned sharpshooter... they think it was one egg mass in a shipment of nursery stock that was overlooked during inspection, but it could just as easily have been in a plant smuggled in to Aunt Mabel hidden in a trunk.

    This is not the first imported pest that threatened CA ag, and it won't be the last.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Veggy city

    And it's not just grapes.

    California produces 70% of the nation's lettuce, 50% of the tomatoes, over 80% of the stawberries, most of the almonds, more rice than any state but Arkansas, more cotton than any state but Texas, and (sorry Wisconsin) more dairy products (milk, cheese) than any other state.

    Ah yes, grapes. Over 90% of the nation's grapes (wine, raisin, table) are grown in California.

    Did I mention we're #3 in potatoes too?

    You bet we worry about foreign pests leaking across the borders.

  10. Default

    A little scolding goes a long way with me, I accept it graciously.

    Never heard of the "glassy-winged sharpshooter", perhaps it goes by another name? I don't recognize it by the picture. Perhaps it isn't in cities but in rural areas of the southeast? I've only been a city gal for the most part.

    Anyway, California has their regulations, and I abided them, unknowingly, by not smuggling or innocently carrying groceries or anything else into the state except 3 Coca Colas, 4 bottles of water, a few Hersey candy bars, and three bags of microwave popcorn. I never thought to question the popcorn, being that it's, gasp!, from a vegetable plant - albeit, a dried one. <wink> Just joking, please, no one take offense.

    I do appreciate the agricultural lesson. I'm also glad I don't keep pigs as pets who travel with me. I've learned my lesson for the evening. Thanks so much.

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