New development: Argentine lemons not allowed into U.S.
This puts on hold a final rule issued December 23 by APHIS that would have allowed Argentine lemons into the United States.
The initial move was criticized by California citrus officials. California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen said at the time that while growers were concerned of the “cheaper” fruit coming into the U.S. market, a chief concern was the potential introduction of invasive pests.
“While CCM does not oppose trade or the inevitable competition created for our industry by the importation of offshore product, we cannot support any trade deal that will place the California citrus industry at risk,” said Nelsen.
“To this end, we will continue to work with the USDA to create a work plan that better protects the domestic citrus industry from the multitude of pests and diseases known to be present in northwest Argentina.”
The bacteria responsible for Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease that has devastated citrus industries around the world including Florida, has been present in Argentine since 2012 and potentially threatens 336,056 acres of citrus crops in the Northwestern and Northeastern regions of the country.
The U.S. citrus industry and the USDA have invested well over a billion dollars in the past decade to protect the U.S. citrus crop against HLB and the insect vector Asian citrus psyllid. ■