Like several organizations in Florida, the Georgia Citrus Association (GCA) has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reverse its decision to allow fresh citrus from China into the United States.
GCA President Lindy Savelle asked for the reversal and expressed “strong opposition” to the April 15 USDA decision in an April 17 letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. She noted that Florida, California and Texas citrus organizations and citizens in 2019 told USDA they opposed the importation of Chinese fruit. Those expressing opposition cited “primarily phytosanitary concerns about the accidental introduction of pests which would be detrimental to those states’ agriculture,” Savelle wrote.
“Out of all the comments and letters provided to USDA opposing this matter, no one noted a primary concern regarding competition,” Savelle continued. “Their pleas were simply to ask for protection against disease/pest risks and to keep our food production stateside … In its decision to allow the importation of these citrus fruits from China, it appears USDA relied heavily on input provided by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of China and its commitment to follow the appropriate international standards for phytosanitary measures to mitigate risk. In other words, USDA trusts China … We cannot afford to rely on China’s commitment to adhere to the rules and protocols.”
“Please protect this country, its people and the American citrus farmer by reversing this decision,” Savelle’s letter concluded. See the full letter.
Savelle also provided Perdue with an update on Georgia citrus, saying the industry has grown to include 41 counties, 130-plus growers and approximately 2,000 acres and 300,000 trees since 2016. She noted that satsuma mandarins account for 85 percent of the acreage. Satsumas are one of the five Chinese varieties that may be imported.
Read more about Florida organizations’ opposition to the USDA decision on Chinese fresh fruit imports here.
Learn here about the different reactions of California and Florida fresh citrus representatives to the Chinese imports.
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