According to a letter from Goldsmith Plants to numerous industry affiliates, the USDA informed Goldsmith Plants, Inc., Tuesday afternoon that they will not be allowed to ship geranium cuttings to the United States this season. Though USDA did not find any new positive test results after weeks of testing and inspecting, shipment has been stopped.
Another section of the letter states that, “In order to prevent the 200-300 suspect cuttings in the U.S. from being a danger to U.S. agriculture, the USDA has ordered the destruction of more than 1.9 million geraniums. The destruction of these plants is not predicated on inspection or testing of those plants for any sign of disease, and with no provision for compensation by the USDA to the growers who are being forced to destroy their crop.”
Based on the above information, it is clear that these actions have left some of the industry asking questions and raising concerns.
When talking with Richard Goldsmith, president of Goldsmith Plants, he expressed his concern for the industry after working with the USDA and the limited risk assessment steps they took. “We, as an industry have not been well represented by the USDA, and we have rights that are being denied to us. They handled this minor disease for geraniums as if every geranium is going to infect the entire agricultural sector. However, this disease has been documented for nearly a decade as being in the United States through geraniums. It’s a known geranium disease, and it has never affected an agriculture crop in the United States.” In his letter, Goldsmith stated, “We know of no way for this infection to be transmitted from a geranium to an agricultural field, other than growing another host crop (potatoes or tomatoes, most likely) in an unsanitary greenhouse with an infected geranium crop, and then planting that crop out in the field.”
“We need to get this off of the bioterrorism list and create some reasonable laws in regards to risk assessment.” Goldsmith has asked the USDA for their risk assessment of this situation and the subsequent justification for their drastic actions and is waiting on a response.. “The USDA has not come up with bona fide answers to justify their destructions,” said Goldsmith.
“We do not intend to step aside and let this happen to our industry. The growers and brokers involved deserve more and our industry is stronger than that,” said Goldsmith.