USDA eases avocado regulations

07/25/2011 01:11:00 PM
Andy Nelson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has eased restrictions on the movement of imported and domestic avocados, deeming the fruit a poor host for Mediterranean fruit fly.

In a ruling published in the July 22 Federal Register, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said avocados may move more freely into the U.S. and within the U.S. because they do not pose a significant risk of Medfly prior to harvest.

In the past, fruit shipped from an area of the U.S. quarantined for Medfly to another part of the country had to be accompanied by a certificated stating that trees had been sprayed before and during harvest for Medfly, or that fruit had been irradiated after harvest.

For avocados imported to the U.S. from regions quarantined for Medfly, growers were required to set traps for the pests.

In the July 22 ruling, however, APHIS officials announced that Medflies are no longer a threat to avocados prior to harvest. As a result, as long as fruit is accompanied by a certificate saying that it has been safeguarded after harvest from exposure to Medfly, it may be imported or shipped from U.S. state to state without further restrictions.

“We have determined that hass avocados are a host for Mexican fruit fly and sapote fruit fly only after harvest,” according to the ruling.

Among exporting countries, Mexico and Peru are specified in the ruling. Chile is not mentioned specifically, according to the ruling, because APHIS recognizes Chile as free of Medfly.

While exporters to the U.S. stand to benefit from the ruling, USDA does not think it will necessarily come at the expense of U.S. growers.

“This rule will allow foreign producers to realize cost savings, and may increase imports. However, we have determined that the domestic avocado industry will not be significantly adversely affected by this rule.”

More imports could mean lower prices, but that could be counterbalanced by greater availability and stronger consumer demand, according to the ruling.



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