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Medfly Invasion Is Latest Countywide Disaster

October 11, 1994

With the floods, fires and earthquakes of the past few years, we Ventura County residents have had our share of natural disasters. Now comes the Medfly. If you're not a farmer, it may be difficult to understand why the Medfly is such a dreaded pest, but the infestation found in Camarillo was like an 8.0 earthquake and the aftershocks will be felt for months.

Farming is big in Ventura County. It helps define our economy, our quality of life and the character of our communities. We produce superior quality fruits and vegetables which are not only enjoyed locally but worldwide. Many jobs are dependent on agriculture, from production to processing clear through to distributing and retailing. Food moves from the field to our tables through a very intricate, complex and yet highly efficient system.

With the economic multiplier effect, agriculture in Ventura County represents between $3 (billion) and $4 billion, not to mention the value of our environment with orchards, groves and fields stretching from the mountains to the ocean. Farming is our heritage and hopefully our future as well.

All of this is threatened by the Medfly. It is such a horrific pest it could probably be classified as agriculture's public enemy No. 1. It has the potential of being a major disaster.

The challenge will be to isolate and eradicate the infestation as swiftly and efficiently as possible and to assure our international trading partners that we are once again Medfly-safe.

It is very important for all of us to understand the severity of the situation, to work together calmly and to support that which is in all of our best interests. I'm confident we have the resources, the capability and the collective will to overcome this "clear and present danger."

LARRY YEE

Ventura

Larry Yee is director of the Ventura County Office of the University of California, Cooperative Extension.

I view the Medfly invasion as illegal immigration.

Accordingly, the governor should immediately cut off all non-emergency medical services, public schooling and entitlements to these little buggers. Once denied the fruits of California's welfare garden, the flies will have no choice but to leave.

JAMES RUSH

Ojai

*

As a Ventura County farmer who lives in the city of Thousand Oaks, I was surprised to read Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski's comments regarding the Medfly crisis. She claims Thousand Oaks is not dependent on agriculture, and "It's not a part of our economy here."

Thousands of people in Ventura County are employed in agriculture, not to mention the ag-related industries (heavy and light equipment, corrugated containers, chemicals, auto parts, computers, gas and oil, electricity, etc.). How many of these people shop at The Oaks mall, or buy cars at the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall? Not only do these people shop here, but many, like myself, live in Thousand Oaks.

What amazes me most is her insensitivity to the people whose livelihoods could be at stake. To hell with the county's No. 1, just don't spray in my yard. The Conejo Valley has lost Lockheed, Packard Bell and others, and now a healthy and thriving industry is threatened. Yet Councilwoman Zukowski has this it's-not-my-problem attitude.

Perhaps she should move to Van Nuys or Santa Monica, where she wouldn't be inconvenienced by issues such as this.

JOSEPH M. BOSKOVICH

Thousand Oaks

Joseph Boskovich is vice president of Boskovich Farms, Inc., based in Oxnard.

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