Plant Health Division - About Us

The Division protects California's:

  • Food supply from the devastating impact of exotic pests.
  • Environment and natural resources from direct pest impacts and increased pesticide use.
  • Public from pests that pose human health threats.
  • Position in the global economy.


Permits and Regulations

The Permits and Regulation program develops all regulations administered by the Plant Division and develops associated, legally required documents such as notices, statements of reason, orders and certificates of compliance. The program issues State permits involving agricultural pests and quarantine commodities, recommends approval or disapproval of applications for Federal permits for the movement into California of plant pests, foreign soil, foreign post entry quarantine plant material and genetically engineered organisms.

Environmental Compliance

Ensure the most cost effective methods are used and the appropriate pest control methods are identified before treatments are made to a designated area. Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the Endangered Species Act requires dedicated staff trained in environmental compliance and dedicated to fulfilling the requirements of both acts.

Plant Data Analysis Services (PDAS)

Provide system analysis, design and development, data management, training, project management, custom report generation and mapping. Provide back up for the Information Technology (IT) help desk. Provide data management for many of the Division's data systems, including the Pest and Damage Record (PDR) system.

Management Services

Provide staff services (Fiscal, Budget, Personnel) functions to the Plant Division. Act as a liaison between other Divisions and Plant Branches. Plant Division contact for Administrative Services, other federal, state and local agencies.

Pest Risk Analysis

Conduct scientific assessments of plant pests and diseases and analyze the likelihood and consequence of the introduction of new plant pests. Make recommendations regarding exclusion, detection, eradication and control options. Provide expert information on the biology and life cycle of plant pests. Maintain a high degree of awareness regarding emerging plant pest distribution, impacts and control methods.

Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee:

Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee (CPDPC)

Advise the Secretary and the agricultural industry about efforts to combat serious pests and diseases that threaten the State's citrus industry. CDFA's role is to Administer and provide guidance to the board.


The Pest Exclusion Branch (PE) is considered the first line of defense. The mission of Pest Exclusion is to keep exotic agricultural and environmental pests out of the State and to prevent or limit the spread of newly discovered pests within the State. Pest Exclusion is the cornerstone of pest prevention. In many instances, exclusion is the first, last and only means to keep exotic pests from invading California.

Interior Pest Exclusion - Enforce federal, foreign and domestic plant pest quarantines, as well as California state exterior and interior quarantines and county restrictions and ordinances.

  • High-Risk Pest Exclusion
    Under state supervision and training, biologists from the agricultural commissioner's office in each county conduct agricultural product inspections at airport, maritime, truck, rail, U.S. Mail and commercial parcel carrier facilities and terminals throughout California.
  • Quarantine Response
    When agricultural pests and diseases of concern are discovered in California, immediate quarantine action may be taken to regulate the production and movement of "host" material from within the boundaries of the infested area, to limit the further spread of the pest.
  • Phytosanitary Certification
    Certifies shipments for export, meeting pest exclusion requirements of other countries and states, and accompanying documents are prepared stating the commodity is free of specific pests of quarantine concern.

Dog Teams

The purpose of the California Dog Teams is to enhance inspection and surveillance activities related to plant products entering the State of California via parcel delivery facilities and airfreight terminals. California Dog Teams operate out of the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa (2 teams), Fresno, Los Angeles (2 teams), Sacramento, San Bernardino (2 teams), San Diego (2 teams), San Joaquin and Santa Clara.

Exterior Pest Exclusion (Border Protections Stations) Program

California's Border Protection Stations (BPS) are the first line of defense in our pest exclusion efforts. At these stations, vehicles are inspected for commodities infested with invasive species. California established its first agricultural inspection stations in the early 1920s. Today there are 16 of these facilities located on the major highways entering the State. At these stations, vehicles and commodities are checked to ensure they are pest free and meet all regulatory requirements.

Nursery, Seed and Cotton Programs

Nursery - The mission of the Nursery Program is to prevent the introduction and spread of agricultural pests through nursery stock and protect agriculture and the consumer against economic losses resulting from the sale of inferior, defective or pest-infested nursery stock.

Coordinating the nursery regulatory and inspection activities performed by the county agricultural commissioner's and providing the agricultural industry with registration and certification services for plant materials.

Seed - The goal of seed law enforcement is to protect seed consumers, including vegetable and field crop growers, as well as urban landscapers.

Through the California Seed Law (Section 52288, California Food and Agricultural Code), the Seed Services program:

  • regulates the marketing of seeds so that quality information is accessible and accurate;
  • tests for seed purity and germination through sampling;
  • investigates seed complaints and attempts to resolve buyer/seller disputes through mediation;
  • works to prevent the transmission of noxious weed seeds through seed products;
  • supports research and development of seed biotechnology.

Cotton Program - The Cotton Program fulfills three separate roles:

  • to coordinate the activities of the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Board,
  • to protect the quality and regulation of the high quality cottons approved by the board, and
  • to ensure that new varieties of cotton are tested and reviewed by the board for approval or disapproval.

The Program is esponsible for planning and coordinating the activities of the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Board and the enforcement of the San Joaquin Valley Cotton District Laws and Regulations.

The mission of Pest Detection & Emergency Projects Branch is to conduct programs designed to detect and eradicate exotic pest infestations before the pests become established in California.

Statewide Detection Trapping - Administers the statewide detection trapping program through trapping contracts with most county departments of agriculture. State personnel maintain the trapping programs in the remaining counties. The statewide trapping network employs over 111,671 traps, primarily targeting exotic fruit flies, Japanese beetle (JB) and spongy moth.

Detection Surveys - The primary function of the USDA-funded Cooperative Agricultural Pest Surveys (CAPS) is to survey, identify and monitor for federally actionable pests of concern to U.S. agriculture. CAPS program objectives are to detect exotic pests before they become established, facilitate the export of agricultural products by demonstrating area freedom, and collect and manage survey data.

Emergency Projects - Provides first response resources for combating introductions of catastrophic plant pests and diseases. These responses include intensive surveys and treatment. Some programs last less than a year, such as most of those for exotic fruit flies, while others may extend over multiple years, such as EGVM and ACP.

Public Outreach and Environmental Monitoring - Two major components of treatment projects are public outreach and environmental monitoring. As part of the public outreach, open house meetings are held within the treatment areas to inform residents of CDFA activities and answer any questions. Environmental monitoring for pesticide residues collects air, leaf, soil, tank and water samples which are tested for pesticide residue levels to ensure compliance with safe application practices.

Mediterranean Fruit Fly Preventative Release Program - The preventative release of sterile Mediterranean fruit flies over nearly 2,400 square miles of the Los Angeles Basin is the primary mission of CDFA's Mediterranean Fruit Fly Preventative Release Program. Approximately 90 million sterile flies are released by plane each week in order to prevent the establishment of this pest.

CDFA Exotic Pest Call Management System - The Exotic Pest Call Management System (CMS) is a toll-free telephone number, accessible statewide, that provides information regarding current programs to the public with maximum efficiency. In 2011, the CMS received 8,747 calls from the public.

The Integrated Pest Control Branch conducts a wide range of pest management and eradication projects. Assessments and fees are collected to fund some program activities and services. The Branch cooperates with other California state agencies, federal and county agencies; research institutions; agricultural industries and other nongovernmental organizations.

Hydrilla Eradication Program - Performs statewide surveys for Hydrilla and conducts treatments to eradicate Hydrilla from water bodies. CDFA is the lead State agency for the Hydrilla Eradication Program, and cooperates closely with local county agricultural commissioner's and federal, state, county and city agencies, with Native tribes and with private individuals and entities.

Light Brown Apple Moth Control Program - Conducts statewide trapping surveys to maintain free from pest areas, provides intensive trapping surveys to determine quarantine areas, and conducts treatments when necessary to suppress and control local isolated populations. The project is a federal and state cooperative program that coordinates with the county agricultural commissioners, other state and local agencies, industry and agricultural organizations throughout the State.

Pink Boll Worm Eradication Program - The Pink Bollworm (PBW) Program prevents the establishment and spread of this devastating pest. It follows the basic guidelines and protocols established under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Area-wide PBW Eradication Program.

Curly Top Virus Control Program - The Beet Curly Top Virus Control Program (BCTVCP) utilizes intensive surveys to locate and monitor BLH populations throughout the year. Once the populations are confirmed, control measures are implemented to control the insect populations and suppress the virus transmission to commercial crops.

Vertebrate Pest Control Research Program - The primary objectives of the program are to maintain the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) field-use rodenticide registrations, provide public education on wildlife damage management, and to administer the Vertebrate Pest Control Research Program.

Plant Pest Diagnostics Center

The Plant Pest Diagnostics Laboratory (entomology, nematology, botany, plant pathology and seed services) serves as a scientific resource, providing timely and accurate plant pest diagnostics and professional expertise to the agricultural industry, California residents and other stakeholders. The professional laboratories perform various activities, including: providing timely and accurate diagnosis of plant pests, weeds and diseases, and evaluation of seed quality and viability.