Late last month, Washington Association of Wheat Growers President Anthony Smith joined Washington Grain Commission Chairman Ben Barstow in supporting the Port of Tacoma’s petition to eradicate an invasive snail.
Cernuella virgata, also called the vineyard snail, was first detected at the Port in 2005. The snails feed on and contaminate field crops including wheat, barley, oats, peas, and canola, and clog machinery. They could also give overseas trading partners a reason to restrict imports from Pacific Northwest ports to avoid contamination.
The initial infestation was approximately 300 acres, but eradication efforts have confined the snails to about an acre. Unfortunately, that acre is classified as a wetland, which restricts traditional treatment methods.
“We appreciate the myriad of mitigation practices that have been employed by the Port of Tacoma and the Washington Department of Agriculture over the last 15 years to contain this infestation. However, the serious risk of spreading remains, which puts our industry and state economy at great risk,” the letter states. “The U.S. grain industry today faces many challenges, including greater competition on the global market, more demanding customers and consumers, record high input costs, and agronomic obstacles like extreme weather, weed resistance, and pests. If this species is allowed to become established in the PNW, it will be another serious risk to the livelihood of Washington grain producers and will very likely require the use of millions of pounds of additional pesticides to control it. It would be a missed opportunity not to eliminate the Mediterranean vineyard snails before they create grave economic problems for Washington.”
The entire letter can be read here.