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McCarthy and California House Members Laud Expansion of Assistance for Pistachio Disease

Aug 28, 2018
Press Release

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) California State Committee recently announced the expansion of the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to include Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome (PBTS).  FSA’s decision comes six months after several California Members of Congress sent USDA a letter questioning why PBTS was not TAP-eligible.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman David Valadao, Congressman Doug LaMalfa, Congressman Jeff Denham, and Congressman Paul Cook issued the following statement on FSA’s action:

“We commend FSA California State Committee Chairman Greg Wegis and his fellow committee members for taking decisive action to help Central Valley and California pistachio growers who suffered losses over the past several years from Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome.  Making this disease eligible under the Tree Assistance Program will mitigate some of the losses our pistachio growers incurred and help ensure that California remains the leading pistachio producing state in the Union.”

Richard Matoian, Executive Director of American Pistachio Growers, issued the following statement in response to the FSA decision:

“The pistachio industry was able to achieve this critically needed assistance program through the diligent work of American Pistachio Growers and our California Congressional officials, who understood the devastating impacts Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome had and is continuing to have on California’s pistachio growers.  The FSA State Committee’s action will ensure that the Tree Assistance Program will be able to assist those growers who were hurt, through no fault of their own, by this devastating disease.”


  • According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s California Agricultural Statistical Review 2016-207, pistachio production was the seventh top commodity in the state valued at over $1.5 billion and the fifth most valuable export crop.
  • According to the California Pistachio Research Board, PBTS is a new disease, generally first observed in 2011, that stunts tree growth and reduces or eliminates a tree’s pistachio production.  To learn more about PBTS, click here.
  • TAP is a program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill that provides payments to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes, or vines damaged by natural disasters, which includes plant diseases.

Information on PBTS and TAP (Source: FSA – California)

  • The USDA California Farm Service Agency State Committee has approved Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome under the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). Pistachio tree producers who incurred pistachio tree losses due to Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome (PBTS) will be able to sign up under the Tree Assistance Program.
  • The signup period for PBTS will begin October 15, 2018. The deadline to apply for losses that occurred on or after Oct 1, 2011 to December 31, 2016 is December 15, 2018. Producers with tree losses due to PBTS on or after January 1, 2017 may also apply beginning October 15, 2018. The deadline for losses that occurred after January 1, 2017 has not yet been set. Producers applying for losses due to PBTS must adhere to all TAP eligibility requirements.
  • TAP was authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 as a permanent disaster program. TAP provides cost-share financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters or plant disease, which now includes Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome.
  • To qualify for TAP:
    • The orchardists must suffer a qualifying tree loss in excess of 15 percent mortality from PBTS, plus an adjustment for normal mortality (3%).
    • The eligible trees must have been owned when the PBTS occurred; however, eligible growers are not required to own the land on which the eligible trees were planted.
    • The owner must provide evidence that trees existed and were lost due to PBTS.
    • Receipts must be provided for actual expenses associated with removal, purchase and planting of trees.
    • An individual or entity’s average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) cannot exceed $900,000.
    • Other program and payment eligibility may apply.
  • If the TAP application is approved, the eligible trees must be replaced within 12 months from the date the application is approved.
  • More Information on the TAP Program: