News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contact:
Steve Lyle, Office of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462,
Release #03-076
State legislative committees briefed on progress of CDFA’s Pierce’s Disease Program
NAPA – California Department of Food and Agriculture CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. testified today at a joint hearing of California’s Senate Select Committee on California’s Wine Industry and Assembly Select Committee on California Wine regarding the progress of the department’s Pierce’s Disease Program, which is engaged in the fight against the glassy-winged sharpshooter and the diseases it spreads in grapevines and other crops and plants.

 “When this program began just over three years ago, the predictions were dire for California’s wine industry,” Secretary Lyons told legislators. “However, our progress has been substantial and our prospects are vastly improved.  We have improved our methods and means of limiting the spread of this pest, and that buys time for the many researchers who are working to identify a cure or treatment for the disease.”

The hearing was held at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa.

Pierce's disease is a lethal disease that afflicts grapevines. It is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The disease has been present in California for decades, killing thousands of acres of grapevines as far back as the late 1800s.  At least 24 counties in California have reported cases of Pierce's disease.  In 1999, it was discovered that a new leafhopper, known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter, was spreading Pierce's disease in Southern California.

Infestations of the glassy-winged sharpshooter have been identified in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Clara, Imperial, Sacramento, Contra Costa, Butte, Fresno, Tulare, Kern and Santa Barbara counties. To stop the spread of the pest, CDFA and agricultural commissioners have inspected thousands of shipments of nursery plants and grapes. Other efforts include an aggressive trapping and survey program to detect the insect, several “area-wide management programs” to target infestations in particular regions, and a long-term research effort to find a cure or treatment for Pierce’s disease.

“Since these efforts began in 1999, more than $130 million in state, federal and industry funds have been allocated to fight Pierce's disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter,” Lyons noted in his testimony. “We have mobilized federal, state, and local pest prevention resources up and down the state, and implemented an integrated and comprehensive program to protect one of California’s top crops.”

For additional information on the glassy-winged sharpshooter and Pierce’s disease, please visit


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