As per a federal order issued by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), all tomato and pepper fruit commercial shipments imported from Mexico, Israel, Canada and the Netherlands will have to be inspected and certified free of disease symptoms.
All imported tomato and pepper seed lots, along with other propagative plant materials, will also have to be tested and/or certified free of the disease.
US Customs and Border Protection plans to increase inspections on imported tomatoes and peppers, according to a CBP press release.
The inspections are scheduled to start Friday, Nov. 22, 2019.
The inspections follow a federal order from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service last week, in order to to prevent the tomato brown rugose fruit virus.
The virus can cause severe fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers, according to the release.
Tomato brown rugose fruit virus spreads from contaminated tools, hands and fruit-to-fruit contact.
The virus was first reported in Israel in 2014 and has since been reported in nine countries including China, Mexico, Italy and Greece.
APHIS will require all imported tomato and pepper seed lots along with other propagative plant materials be tested and/or certified free of the disease.
Also, it will require all tomato and pepper fruit commercial shipments imported from Mexico, Israel, Canada and the Netherlands to be inspected and certified free of disease symptoms.
In addition, CBP will increase inspections of commercial consignments at U.S. ports of entry to ensure imported tomato and pepper fruit entering from Mexico, Canada, Israel, and the Netherlands does not show any signs of disease upon arrival.
More than $500 million of Mexican tomatoes enter the United States annually through local ports of entry, and the Nogales-based Fresh Produce Association said in a news release that it s working with the USDA to minimize any delays or negative business impacts from the inspections.
“Tomato and pepper supplies should remain robust as producers throughout Mexico begin to harvest their winter crops,” the FPAA said.
The heightened inspections come on the heels of a tense summer for local produce importers, who saw the United States and Mexico draft a new agreement on Mexican tomato imports after U.S. producers accused growers south of the border of “dumping” their product in the domestic market. ■