Proposed rules could affect pecan growers

5/11/2013 9:15 AM
By Associated Press

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Proposed federal regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act could have a major effect on pecan growers' operations.

LSU AgCenter Associate Vice Chancellor Rogers Leonard says among that the proposed regulations is one that would prevent cattle grazing in pecan orchards within nine months before a pecan crop is harvested. This would effectively eliminate cattle grazing in orchards.

Leonard says the new rules likely will increase producers' costs for production.

"There is no doubt there will be more strict guidelines in place, and they won't all be pleasant to implement. They probably will increase producers' input costs for production," Leonard said. "Many of the farmers markets across the state ultimately could be affected.

"This has caused considerable concern among all fresh produce growers."

The Food and Drug administration is proposing that producers would have to monitor for the presence of animals in fields and orchards.

"No changes in current policies have been approved," he said.

The comment period on the proposed regulations is open, he said.

Last year's pecan crop was beset with problems, especially for late maturing varieties, said pecan specialist Charlie Graham. "If you were early, you were in pretty good shape."

The industry in Louisiana hasn't had a good overall crop since 2007, he noted. "If you did everything you could do and did it right last year, it got you an average crop."

Scab disease was a problem if trees were left untreated, he said.

Pecans that didn't mature until after Hurricane Isaac had problems, he said, and this year's crop is not starting out well.

Entomologist Mike Hall also warned that the pecan weevil is showing up in north Louisiana.

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