Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2001-02 Budget Bill

Department of Food and Agriculture (8570)

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) promotes and regulates the state's agriculture industry through marketing programs and industry inspections. The department is responsible for developing California's agricultural policies and assuring accurate weights and measures in commerce. The department also provides financial oversight to county, district, and citrus fairs.

The 2001-02 Governor's Budget proposes $251 million ($99 million General Fund) in support of the department for the budget year. This is a 2 percent decrease from estimated current-year expenditures.

Comprehensive Statewide Strategic Plan Not Yet Available

We withhold recommendation on the $112.7 million ($71.5 million General Fund) for the Department of Food and Agriculture's Plant Pest Prevention, Detection, and Eradication programs pending receipt and review of the department's comprehensive statewide strategic plan that is to be sent to the Legislature by March 1, 2001.

The DFA's Plant Pest Prevention, Detection, and Eradication programs include screening incoming parcels for contaminated agricultural products, inspecting vehicles entering the state, monitoring pest detection traps, operating the plant pest diagnostic laboratory, administering various pest control programs, and implementing numerous emergency pest eradication programs (including the red imported fire ant and the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter [GWSS]).

In our Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill, we noted that because the department does not have a comprehensive statewide strategic plan for these programs, it is increasingly difficult for the Legislature to evaluate the need for funding or the impact of the total program. For example, an important function of the department is partnering with counties to prevent the introduction and establishment of serious plant pests and diseases. The department, however, does not clearly lay out the responsibilities between the levels of government regarding these programs. Also, the distinction between a control versus eradication program has important programmatic and budgetary implications. Typically, a control program is funded by the agricultural industry and eradication by the General Fund. The industry directly benefits from both types of programs. In our Analysis we pointed out that the department needed to address the issue of appropriate cost sharing between the state and industry for the various programs. In view of these issues, we recommended that the department initiate a statewide planning process. This process would begin with identification of the state's goals and challenges with regard to these programs and result in a comprehensive statewide strategic plan.

The Legislature concurred with the need for a comprehensive plan and adopted supplemental report language directing the department to submit such a plan to the Legislature by March 1, 2001. The plan is to be a comprehensive statewide strategic plan for management and coordination of all invasive plant and pest prevention programs. In addition, in last year's budget deliberations, the Legislature denied the department's request to make several programs permanent. Instead, the programs were continued for one year and subject to reevaluation in the context of the new plan. The 2001-02 Governor's Budget is again proposing that the Legislature approve these as permanent programs as discussed below.

Medfly Preventative Release Program. The Governor's budget proposes $8.7 million from the General Fund and 138 positions to make this program permanent. The department began efforts to control the impact of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly) on California's agricultural industry in 1975. Since 1980, the state has spent around $130 million from the General Fund to support this effort, with a similar amount provided by the federal government. The department has used aerial and ground spraying, and sterile Medfly releases to fight the pest.

The current program began in 1996 and involves raising sterile Medflies and releasing them throughout a 2,100 square mile area of the Los Angeles Basin. Total program costs are $16 million annually, shared equally between the state and the federal government. This program was approved as a five year program with a June 30, 2001 sunset date. Pending receipt of the comprehensive plan, it is not clear how this program fits into the state's overall goals for a coordinated invasive plant and pest program. Additionally, since this program is an ongoing control effort (rather than eradication), it is not clear why this program should not be funded in part, or in whole, by the agriculture industry.

Parcel Inspection Dog Teams. The Governor's budget includes $1.9 million from the General Fund and 30 positions to make permanent the Agricultural Parcels Inspection program. This program was initiated in the 1996-97 Budget Act, when the Legislature approved $895,000 from the General Fund and 14.6 personnel-years for a two-year pilot program. In the 1998-99 Budget Act the Legislature doubled the size of the pilot program and extended it for an additional two years. During the course of the program, the department has submitted two legislatively mandated reports on program activities.

The program includes 12 teams—consisting of an agricultural biologist, an agricultural inspector, and a dog trained to detect plant material—that are deployed in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles Basin, and the San Diego area. As noted last year, the teams screen a small portion of all packages entering the state—approximately 1 percent to 6 percent, depending on location—and it is not clear that these inspections have a significant impact on preventing pest infestations.

Pest Detection. The department is requesting $1.3 million from the General Fund to make permanent its trapping and detection activities for the Medfly using a new type of pest trap. This is the same program and level of funding included in the 2000-01 Budget Act.

Public Outreach. The department is requesting $515,000 from the General Fund to increase public outreach activities—such as producing and distributing brochures, maintaining a telephone hotline, and maintaining a Web site. This is a $15,000 increase from the current-year expenditure level for these purposes.

The appropriate level of state funding for the various programs in the Plant Pest Prevention, Detection, and Eradication program is dependent, to a great extent, on the information that should be included in the comprehensive statewide strategic plan. Consequently, pending receipt and review of the comprehensive statewide strategic plan, we withhold recommendation on the department's $112.7 million request for these programs.

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter Program

We recommend the department report to the Legislature, prior to budget hearings, on the development of clear goals and measurable outcome criteria for the Pierce's Disease/Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter program.

The Governor's budget includes $19.6 million ($8.9 million from the General Fund, $4.9 million from federal funds, and an anticipated $5.8 million contribution from the wine and grape industry). This program is part of the department's Plant and Pest Prevention program and also needs to be considered in the context of the Comprehensive Statewide Strategic plan due to the Legislature March 1, 2001.


In August 1999, an outbreak of Pierce's Disease (PD), a bacteria that infects several plant species and can be particularly devastating to grape vines, was confirmed in the Temecula area in southern Riverside County. It was determined that the cause for the spread of the disease was due to a nonnative insect—the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS). In response to the potential harm this disease poses to the wine grape industry, the Legislature has to date appropriated $16 million to combat the spread of the disease. In addition, the federal government and the wine industry have committed $22 million and $750,000, respectively, that will be spent over at least three years. Thus, to date a total of about $39 million has been committed to this program.

These funds are to be spent in two general areas: (1) efforts to limit the spread of the disease by controlling the GWSS and (2) research on both the disease and methods to control the sharpshooter.

State-Level Responsibilities

The DFA has developed a response to the threat from PD and the GWSS by coordinating the efforts of various organizations including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the University of California (UC), county agricultural departments, and a variety of industry representatives. With additional input from the Science Advisory Panel, the PD Advisory Task Force, and its own technical staff, the department has developed the content of the program and its goals and objectives. Although the development of program information, expertise, and structure originates on the state level, most of the implementation of the program is carried out at the county level. The state accomplishes this through contracts it has entered into with the counties. The department created and provided the counties with the PD Control Program Workplan to guide the counties in program implementation and budgeting. Thus far, the state has entered into contracts with 48 counties, at a total contract amount of approximately $14 million. In addition the department maintains an informational Web site. Figure 1 shows the department's current-year spending plan and what it has spent as the half-way point as of the fiscal year.

Figure 1

Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
Program Spending

(In Thousands)



Spent a

DFA personal services



DFA operation expenses and equipment



Contracts with counties






a As of December 28, 2000.

b Actual payments to counties.

Research. In October of 1999, Chapter 627 (AB 1232, Cardoza) made available $750,000 from the General Fund per year for three years to fund PD/GWSS research. These funds are contingent upon receiving an industry match of $250,000 per year. The PD Research Advisory Task Force—made up of state and local agency representatives, various industry representatives, and UC scientists—evaluate the research proposals and advise the secretary on funding priorities. The federal government, through the USDA, has provided an additional $4.2 million to aid in the research effort. To date, over 50 projects have been approved by DFA and USDA and funded. These projects include research in areas such as determining the most effective pesticides against the GWSS, how PD works inside various plants, and how GWSSs move and transmit the disease. The research effort is primarily conducted by UC.

Biological Controls. The department has identified possible natural predators to the GWSS. Biological controls, if effective, can replace, or at least minimize, the use of pesticides as a control agent. The DFA, USDA, and UC scientists are currently working on collection, rearing, and release programs.

County Level Responsibilities

As mentioned above, the counties take the lead in implementing the program on the local level. The PD Control Program Workplan developed by DFA lays out a county program made up of (1) detection and inspections, (2) containment, (3) public outreach, and (4) environmental monitoring. The county Agricultural Commissioner's Office enters into a contract with DFA based on the county's work plan and an estimated budget to accomplish the tasks called for in the plan.

Detection and Inspection. Most of the county level funds are spent on detection and inspection, deploying and checking a network of traps for the presence of GWSS, and inspecting nurseries and commodities throughout the county. As the program first developed the traps were "piggy backed" onto Medfly traps. This methodology has since been found to be ineffective. The department continues to adjust its trapping procedures to improve results.

Containment. If the GWSS is found, the county implements the containment response plan as required in the state contract. This includes increased surveying (searching for the GWSS) and chemical treatments if appropriate. Since this is the first full year of operation of the program, spraying done last summer and fall has yet to be fully assessed to determine the extent to which the GWSS has been eradicated.

Public Outreach. The counties also engage in a variety of public outreach programs that include meeting with growers, nursery operators, and commodity shippers. The counties hold local task force meetings and when chemical treatments are required on private residences, community information meetings are held to answer individual homeowner questions.

Environmental Monitoring. Counties work in cooperation with the state to arrange for environmental monitoring. Monitoring is conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Decisions as to whether environmental monitoring should be adjusted or, if sufficient data show no negative effects to the environment, deleted rest with both the state and the counties.

Information Needed

As mentioned earlier in this analysis, the department is preparing a comprehensive statewide strategic plan (due to the Legislature March 1, 2001) to address the state's overall plan for pest prevention and eradication. The GWSS program is contained within the department's Pest Prevention and Eradication program. Accordingly, this plan should cover—specific to the PD/GWSS program—the program goals, milestones, and outcome measures for reaching these goals. Additionally, the department has not shown that it has in place a process that holds counties accountable for funds spent through county contracts. Therefore, to assist the Legislature in its oversight and appropriation of funds for this program, the department—prior to budget hearings—should provide information on:

Environmental Task Force Report

Concerns about the environmental and public health impacts of pesticide application to eradicate the GWSS prompted the Legislature to include language in the 2000-01 Budget Act requiring the department to convene an Environmental Task Force made up of representatives from state and county agencies and a variety of other organizations. Members were drawn from the following:

The task force was to provide input concerning the potential adverse effects on public health and the environment from the application of pesticides to eradicate the GWSS. Also, the task force was to suggest measures that would reduce possible harm to public health and the environment while effectively and expeditiously managing the GWSS threat.

The task force submitted its recommendations to the department on December 1, 2000, as required by the budget act language. The task force recommended that DFA:

The Legislature also adopted supplemental report language directing the department to report to the Legislature, by January 1, 2001, the results of their consultations with the task force and their evaluation of the potential adverse effects on public health and the environment. It also requires the department to report on the overall strategy developed for reviewing the county work plans to ensure that they result in the least possible harm to the public and the environment while effectively and expeditiously combating PD and the insects that carry it.

The department's report was received late in January, too late to review for this analysis. Upon review of the report, we will make recommendations, as appropriate, to the Legislature during budget hearings.

Headquarters Relocation Not Justified

We recommend the Legislature delete the $729,000 augmentation request to move the Department of Food and Agriculture's headquarters from state-owned buildings into leased facilities because it is both costly and unnecessary to move the department. (Reduce Item 8570-001-0001 by $566,000, Item 8570-001-0191 by $66,000, and Item 8570-001-0111 by $97,000.)

The Governor's budget includes a $729,000 augmentation for DFA's facilities operations to support increased leasing costs to permanently move the department's headquarters from two state-owned buildings to leased space. According to DFA, additional costs are anticipated for tenant improvements at the leased facilities and for relocation and moving costs. Therefore, DFA indicates that it may submit a deficiency request regarding the proposal.

Currently, the headquarters is located near the State Capitol at 1220 N Street and 1215 O Street. The proposed move is based on the assumption that DFA must vacate the buildings because of the Department of General Services (DGS) plan to renovate them. The renovation plan is included in the Governor's budget under DGS's capital outlay program. The estimated future cost for the renovations totals $38 million. The Legislature has previously approved design funds to renovate the 1220 N Street building, but has deferred construction because of the potential to locate the governor's residence on this site. The Legislature has not previously reviewed the proposal to renovate the 1215 O Street building. In our analysis of the DGS proposal, we have raised several issues and have recommended that the Legislature delete the requested funds. (Please see the "Capital Outlay" chapter of this Analysis for a discussion of the renovation proposal.)

As mentioned above, the proposal to move the headquarters to leased space is based on the assumption that the existing building must be vacated for renovation. However, the 1220 N Street building is about 30 percent vacant and the original plan for renovations of this building did not include relocating the department. It is not clear why the administration now proposes to relocate the department to leased space. In view of the vacant space in the building, if the renovations are undertaken, the work could proceed as originally planned without moving DFA into leased space.

Based on (1) our recommendation that the Legislature not approve funding for the proposed renovations and (2) the ability to renovate the building as originally planned without moving DFA, we recommend the Legislature delete the $729,000 requested for increased facilities lease costs.

Return to General Government Table of Contents, 2001-02 Budget Analysis