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Old 09-11-2010, 05:42 PM   #1
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California Fruit Police

From time to time questions come up about the California border fruit and veggie inspection stations. There are 16 of them on major roads and there's even a website that tells you how to get around some of them. Despite budget problems, the stations are all open 24 hrs./day, 7 days/wk. It is not easy finding specific info.

The state has info here: CDFA > PHPPS > PE > Helping to Protect California's Agriculture and Environment

One of the links on the above page (I'll include the pdf) gives a list of what you can bring and can't. It says you can bring some things from some states with a certificate. I don't know what a certificate is and how someone bringing food for your use in an RV would get one—this is probably for bulk shipments. I will e-mail them about that and post the answer if I get one.

We have entered California twice in recent years and had no problems—no inspections, no fruit theft by the state. Not everyone is so lucky.

Gene
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:22 PM   #2
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A license to carry a concealed banana? Our country has lost it's marbles...
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:40 PM   #3
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Most of the time they ask us where we're coming from and wave us through; no big deal.
It used to be tight coming from Oregon into California on the coast road, but it was closed last time we cruised through.
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:04 PM   #4
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A license to carry a concealed banana? Our country has lost it's marbles...
No, you don't need a license for your banana. Bananas are permitted (but subject to inspection) from all the contiguous states.

They have a very firm prohibition against importing bananas from Canada and Alaska though. The 1902 Banana Rot infection and the 1934 Banana Weevil infestation wiped out the entire banana crop north of US Route 50.

Haven't been able to grow bananas in Montana since.
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:13 PM   #5
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No, you don't need a license for your banana. Bananas are permitted (but subject to inspection) from all the contiguous states.

They have a very firm prohibition against importing bananas from Canada and Alaska though. The 1902 Banana Rot infection and the 1934 Banana Weevil infestation wiped out the entire banana crop north of US Route 50.

Haven't been able to grow bananas in Montana since.
I miss those fresh Montana/Alaskan bananas, sigh......
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:20 PM   #6
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A few facts about Californa Agriculture:

1. California is the nation’s top agricultural state, and has been for more than 50 years.

2. Agriculture generates approximately $36.2 billion a year, more than any other state.

I think the State would be derelict if it wasn't doing anything to protect this industry and the jobs it produces. The inspections only take a few minutes of your time and are minimally intrusive.

I grew up in California's central valley and appreciate what our agricultural industry means to the lives of so many people.

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Old 09-11-2010, 07:47 PM   #7
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Arizona used to have them as well. Every car coming into the state was stopped and the driver was questioned about any fruits, vegetables or live plants in the vehicle. We referred to these as the "bug station".

My wife grew up in Arizona and has some great stories about her family sitting at the station eating a bag of fruit that they bought somewhere outside of the state. You had two choices: Toss it or eat it.

The bug stations are gone, but commercial trucks are still inspected when they cross into the state.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:13 PM   #8
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I believe they are also called bug stations in California. They also inspect for firewood and some other stuff. No doubt insects can be a problem. What people complain of is dense rules (what is a certificate?), difficulty in finding out the rules, the silliness of taking a few pieces of fruit from an RV. Since there are roads into the state without bug stations, or around the bug stations, people know how to get around them and the inspectors know this, but are happy to take a few pieces of fruit when others may be taking a lot in.

Last time I had to stop at one on I-40, I told them I had some stuff for personal consumption. I think when we went via I-80, I did the same thing. They told us to go. Yet, on another thread, someone came in from the north a couple of days ago, and had a piece of citrus taken away. So enforcement is unpredictable and arbitrary. The amount of traffic may determine inspections and the amount of inspectors. During colder seasons there may be less enforcement because the bugs won't survive. When I go to Yosemite I will be crossing into a remote part of the state and wonder where I am going to get resupplied within Cal.—Lee Vining perhaps? The Cal. grocery stores must like this.

When they throw the stuff away, does it go into a container that prevents bugs from getting out? Are they spreading the problem themselves?

The feds have been turned into fruit police at the Canadian border lately (or more so than before), but that's another story. And in Florida there are inspection stations—we've gone by the one in Chiefland (I think it's on US 19) many times and never have seen anyone stopping or chased down for not stopping. The sign about it is hard to see and most people probably never notice it.

I posted the list because there is so much confusion over this. It took a while to find the list (government websites seem to go to the lowest bidder). No doubt the list changes from time to time. When they ask you where you came from, that probably is to determine if you come from a state from which importation is prohibited, often from states east of the Rocky Mtn. states, and some of Utah.

Gene
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:21 PM   #9
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If Im not mistaken, DiDnt Fla have something like that to inspect fruit coming OuT of Fla or was that mis-information
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:25 PM   #10
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The Ag inspection stations serve to educate as well as to protect. Having watched California weather some infestation battles, some won, some lost, I fully support what they are trying to do.

No, they can't catch every piece of fruit or, unfortunately, every pest. Nor do they want to start searching cars instead of taking people's word for what they are bringing in. It isn't always possible to get the word out to all potential travelers about what the latest threats might be. Asking politely at the border allows for the greatest visibility and flexibility with the least amount of intrusion.

The fact that they are willing to staff the stations even through tight budget times sends a great, big, huge educational message: Agriculture matters here and please, please, please do what you can to help keep it free from imported pests, whatever form that threat may take.

Thank you all very much for your cooperation and your willingness to discard that miscreant citrus that stowed away in your vehicle. We Californians truly do appreciate it.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:29 PM   #11
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The feds have been turned into fruit police at the Canadian border lately (or more so than before), but that's another story.
Returning from a recent trip to Canada our trailer was searched and an orange (which had originated in the US) and half a dozen green onions were confiscated.

Sleep well tonight--the Department of Homeland Security is keeping you safe from foreign green onions.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:34 PM   #12
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Bees

We never had such problems with our bees dying before we shipped them back and forth to Calif. to pollinate their crops. We had a very pest free crop of honey bees up here. Now even with my 4 hives, we really have to watch them, and medicate to keep the colonies alive. It strikes me as very funny that we can't take a vegetable down there, but can take a semi truck load of hives with their pollen and everything else down there, and bring all the diseases and pests back up here, all because Calif. needs the pollinators, but not more vegetables. So we get to fight their diseases now.
In New Zealand, it is not possible to take a hive from one burrough to another. They are protective of their honey producers.
Case in point, why does Calif. stop one vegetable, and not stop a semi load of pollen?
Greg
P.S. I jjust have enough hives to provide honey for us and my farm market sales.
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:46 PM   #13
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I remember we had fruit customs search and seizure dealing with California back in the 1950's. We were pulling a camper my dad had built. My mother was pissed.
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Old 09-11-2010, 09:43 PM   #14
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My wife and I have stuffed ourselves with delicious illegal fruit at the I-5 station several times rather than throwing it away
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