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December 23, 2013 (San Diego) – If you love California’s agricultural products — our fruits, nuts, veggies, chicken, eggs and pork chops — the County Agricuiltural Department has this reminder for you: don’t pack a pest in your luggage!

The holiday season is also the season for traveling. And we should all do our best to protect the California agricultural products we love to eat — and which make up a huge part of our state and local economy — by making sure we don’t accidentally bring something home that can force quarantines, wreck crops and wreak havoc.

It’s like the Las Vegas slogan. You know, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?”

The truth is, whatever you find on your trip, should stay behind on your trip when it comes to agricultural and related stuff, no matter whether you’re just traveling to another state or out of the country.

Don’t transport any fresh, raw, uncooked, untreated foodstuffs, seeds, beans, nuts, rice, dried fruit, decorative greenery, untreated wood items, or animal products from most foreign countries.

And if you are traveling and you think you have accidentally packed some plant or animal item away, declare those products when you’re asked by an agricultural inspector — like ours here at the County — if you have anything in your luggage.

Why? The reason is simple.

Agricultural disease and pest outbreaks are happening everywhere all the time, and those pests, viruses, and problems can be carried from there to here very easily in our modern age of fast travel.

“You can’t believe how easy it is to bring something really bad into the area,” said County Entomologist Tracy Ellis. “Even inadvertently packing a twig from a holiday wreath from the Midwest, or some bulbs from Florida, ornamental citrus branches from Asia, or avocado leaves from Mexico can carry in pests and diseases that can be devastating to California and/or Mexico’s multi-billion food production industry.”

San Diego County is already battling to control numerous deadly pests and viruses, such as the goldspotted oak borer, the Asian citrus psyllid — which could spread “citrus greening” disease and devastate California’ citrus industry — and the polyphagous shot hole borer that was discovered here recently.

So if you’re traveling, remember, what you find on your trip — stays behind on your trip!

“You don’t want to be the Scrooge who brings a scourge home to share with everyone else,” Ellis said.

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