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Adam Putnam issues ‘agricultural state of emergency’ in Miami over fruit fly infestation

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Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam declared Tuesday an Oriental Fruit Fly infestation in Miami-Dade County rises to the level of an agricultural emergency.

“The Oriental Fruit Fly is one of the world’s most destructive pests and poses a significant threat to Florida’s $123 billion agriculture industry and the two million jobs it supports,” said Putnam in a statement.

“Miami-Dade County’s agriculture industry is a $1.6 billion industry, and we will use every weapon in our arsenal that’s necessary to eradicate this pest and protect Florida agriculture and our economy.”

In a release, FDACS said the insidious critter burrows into and lays eggs inside of hundreds of fruits, vegetables and nuts including avocado, mango, mamey, loquat, lychee, longon, dragon fruit, guava, papaya, sapodilla, banana and annona.

Putnam’s office said the situation is especially dire heading into the winter months, when the nation has grown reliant on South Florida-grown agricultural products that are now threatened by the infestation.

The department said it is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to quarantine an 85-square-mile area where trees hosting the pests have been detected; treating a 1.5-square-mile area around each area of detection; and removing infected fruit (but not the trees) within 200 meters of affected sites.

Spinosad, also known as GF-120  NF fruit  fly bait manufactured by the ag firm Naturalyte, is being used for ground spraying around infested sites.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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