MOSES LAKE – Gov. Jay Inslee stopped for a visit to the fire-ravaged town of Malden recently and brought a gift – a box of apples picked from his own yard. It turns out the apples were infested with the apple maggot. Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake) said that the gift has exposed Eastern Washington’s already fragile agricultural industry to an invasive species.
She said that even though it’s a misdemeanor, she believes the state should cite Inslee for bringing the apples against industry rules.
“I’m surprised and, frankly, disappointed,” the former chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said. “It was a nice gesture, but not well thought through. As the state’s executive, he should have followed the law to keep our state’s agriculture safe instead of putting it at risk. I think that the stiffest penalties are in order.”
Produce from Western Washington is required to undergo safety measures to prevent importing the apple maggot into Eastern Washington. No such pests exist in Malden, which is part of a quarantine area.
“The state requires strict protocols to be followed when transporting produce because we want to keep our industry safe,” Warnick said. “I think it’s a fairly serious gaffe by the state’s executive and warrants a strong penalty.”
Warnick is calling for the Washington Department of Agriculture to investigate the matter. The department is currently working on rounding up the apples from Inslee’s yard that were handed out to fire victims, and the governor has said he regrets the mistake.
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