Florida citrus growers back bill to preclude Chinese imports
Topics: FLORIDA CITRUS CHINESE
That state’s growers have invested billions of dollars to battle citrus greening disease that came from Asia. The bill comes after the US Department of Agriculture authorized limited varieties for import as of April 15. Before that, the United States had not allowed any citrus imports from China.
"Given that our growers have so many other challenges right now competition from Brazil, citrus greening and other diseases it's obvious to me that adding Chinese imports is going to be very problematic," said the bill's sponsor, US Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican from Lakewood.
Stuebe introduced the bill after formal requests from Florida's congressional delegation to rescind the decision failed to move the US Department of Agriculture.
Steube refers to it as the U.S. Citrus Protection Act. He said he didn't know of a companion bill in the Senate yet, and that he realizes his bill might face scheduling problems because he filed it late in the session.
Stuebe said he listened to growers in his area and to members of the Florida Farm Bureau before he crafted the short bill. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Florida citrus growers said the Trump Administration's decision to authorize the imports was a sharp blow amid economic hardship caused by the pandemic.
The USDA announced in February that five specific types of citrus from China would be allowed under the new US-China trade agreement pummelo, Nanfeng honey mandarin, ponkan, sweet orange and Satsuma mandarin fruit. Some of those are grown in limited amounts in the United States as specialty crops. ■