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State nursery industry drives ODA's implementation of a Phytophthora ramorum inspection and surveill
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State nursery industry drives ODA's implementation of a Phytophthora ramorum inspection and surveillance program

June 21, 2004

Contact: Cam Sivesind at (503) 682-5089 or (800) 342-6401.

At the request of the Oregon Association of Nurseries and its nearly 1,000 wholesale grower members across the state, the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced today it is stepping up its inspection of Oregon nurseries by implementing and maintaining a state-of-the-art inspection and surveillance program. The ODA continues to work closely with the industry to make certain that purchasers of Oregon nursery products do not receive Phytophthora ramorum-infected plants.

The OAN is a strong proponent for the production of healthy nursery stock and using state-of-the-art testing and inspection methods. With its history of supporting rigorous and effective quarantines through a cooperative partnership with the ODA and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the OAN requested that the ODA re-evaluate current survey standards, and the ODA responded.

"The OAN asked the ODA to implement a Phytophthora ramorum pathogen-free production program in an effort to assure the nursery industry and home gardeners that Oregon continues to grow and ship high-quality, disease-free nursery stock," said Michael (Mac) McCarter, OAN president. "Because of the potential for market uncertainty and additional regulation, we asked the Oregon Department of Agriculture to immediately institute an inspection program that exceeds the currently recommended USDA APHIS standards. The regulation must be mandatory and include both the regulated hosts and associated host plants of P. ramorum."

The OAN wants all nurseries in the state that ship host and associated host material to be inspected and tested at a scientifically valid level using USDA APHIS-approved methods. The association is asking that nurseries growing or shipping this material employ USDA APHIS-approved best management practices (BMPs) to lower the risk of introduction. "The ODA will monitor the adoption of BMPs through a mandatory compliance agreement program," McCarter said. "The association strongly supports effective and transparent regulations to mitigate P. ramorum. We asked the ODA to use its broad regulatory powers to make this come to pass, and has been their track record of working cooperatively with our industry and leading the nation on the P. ramorum issue, the department came through for our industry and the state."

The OAN and its members want to assure all purchasers of Oregon plant material -- be it the home gardener at their local retail garden center, an out-of-state buyer of wholesale nursery stock or regulatory officials in other states -- that plants produced by Oregon growers are free of Phytophthora ramorum.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, represents more than 1,600 wholesale growers, retailers, landscapers and suppliers. Oregon's ornamental horticulture industry is the state's largest agricultural commodity, with 2002 sales of $727 million.

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