( File photo )

Florida specialty fruit growers are pushing back against the possible importation of mamey sapote from Mexico.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a notice that it had prepared a pest risk analysis that evaluates the risks associated with importation of fresh mamey sapote fruit from Mexico.

Based on their analysis, the USDA said mamey sapote could be imported safely if subject to several phytosanitary measures, including irradiation and pre-export inspection.

Comments on the notice are due July 1, and about a dozen South Florida growers have made comments on the notice so far.

Here is an excerpt from one representative comment:

“As an avocado grower I’m suffering from laurel wilt, started by an invasive species. I’m losing 50-60 trees a year and, may I add, at a tremendous cost of time and money. Our area is devastated by this disease and mamey sapote is a crop that I see other growers switching to as their avocados disappear. It is an option we need to maintain to keep our agricultural community growing as the avocados disappear in our area. 

“It is very hard to a U.S. grower to compete with our current labor situation, high operation cost, insurance rates, etc. The hourly rate in Mexico I believe is around $2 an hour — very hard to compete with that. The importation of mamey sapote will hit hard our local growers to the point of uncertainty if they can even survive.”

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