Three southern states fearing Mediterranean fruit fly infestation began stopping trucks bringing in California fruits and vegetables today, but late today Calfornia growers won a preliminary restraining order in Texas against the embargo.
Pete Packett, a spokesman for the Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Department, said nine of 44 trucks bringing in California produce has been turned away at the state's border by noon. He said Florida would fight any court attempt to stop the five-state effort against potential infestation by the fruit-destroying insect.
California growers sought and received a preliminary restraining order in federal court in Dallas, stopping the embargo in Texas.
A spokesman for California Attorney General George Deukmejian said the state would ask the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday for a temporary restraining order against the southern states' embargo. California and federal officials argue that the three-country quarantine now in effect in the San Francisco area is enough to stop the Medfly from migrating to other states.
Officials in Texas said earlier today that they had set up special roadblocks to stop the influx of banned produce from California, which produces half the nation's fruits and vegetables. South Carolina also is turning back produce at its borders. Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina have prohibited 200 varieties of California produce unless they have been fumigated, treated with low temperatures or certified that they come from an area where extensive trapping has proved no Medflies present.
Packett said he estimated that most of the 35 California trucks allowed into Florida since the embargo began at 12:01 a.m. carried fruits and vegetables the Medflies don't like. He said Florida was still allowing in eggplants, cucumbers, melons, lettuce and some other fruits and vegetables from California. The Medfly lays eggs in 200 varieties of fruit and vegetables and the hatched larvae feed on the produce until it is soft and unmarketable.
At a news conference in Los Gatos today, California officials said it would have five Medfly traps set up in every square mile of growing area in the state by the end of the week. The five southern states that have begun the embargo have insisted on this.