The Trump administration is moving to permanently allow Argentine lemons to enter the U.S. market. This is despite objections from California citrus growers and warnings of dire consequences for California lemons, including exposing the industry to new pests and diseases.
“It is evident that the California citrus industry is the pawn in a greater trade deal between the Trump administration and Argentina,” said Richard Pidduck, Ventura County citrus grower and chair of the Santa Paula, California-based U.S. Citrus Science Council (USCSC). The announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service comes only days after President Trump’s meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
“I am extremely disappointed by the administration’s complete disregard for domestic citrus producers and the impact of this rule to the California fresh lemon industry,” Pidduck said in a news release.
The announcement comes less than a week after President Trump signed an executive order on promoting agriculture and rural prosperity in America. “President Trump and the administration have turned their backs on the California lemon industry and the many family farmers who work tirelessly to deliver a safe and quality product to consumers,” concluded Pidduck.
In response to the announcement by USDA, California Citrus Mutual President and USCSC board member Joel Nelsen stated, “Allowing the importation of lemons from Argentina is a complete departure by the administration from its self-proclaimed stance against trade policies that place American businesses at a disadvantage. The rule will open the flood gates to pests and diseases known to be in Argentina that could threaten our domestic lemon supply.”
Nelson went on to say, “The foundation of this rule and the execution of the rule-making process under the Obama administration and now the Trump administration is laden with hypocrisy, ignores transparency, and dismisses the scientific and economic data that prove the rule will have significant negative consequences for California’s $3 billion fresh citrus industry.”
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