U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is formulating a response to concerns about the import of fresh citrus from China being allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), according to Florida citrus industry representatives. Florida Citrus Packers Executive Vice President Peter Chaires and Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows, however, did not know when the response would be issued.
USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach on April 22 answered some questions about the Chinese imports posed by Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “As part of the requirements for market access, China anticipates that they will export approximately 19,570 tons in total/year,” Ibach wrote. “Moreover, APHIS’s (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) analysis indicates it is unlikely that China will export a significant amount of citrus to the United States as almost all Chinese citrus is consumed domestically and in Southeast Asia. It is unlikely that exports to the United States will heavily displace domestic production or existing sources of foreign supply.”
The under secretary also advised Black that the Food and Drug Administration is the agency with the primary responsibility for food safety in the U.S. He added that APHIS has “implemented a cohesive set of measures” to address phytosanitary concerns about the fruit coming from China.
See Ibach’s letter to Black here.
In April, Florida representatives, senators and leaders of citrus and other agricultural groups in Florida let Perdue know they opposed the USDA’s decision to allow the import of fresh Chinese citrus.
“After all that Florida’s industry has overcome and the current challenges facing our farmers, to put our agriculture industry at risk by allowing both the introduction of additional invasive species as well as increased foreign competition is beyond misguided,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wrote. “To kick our agriculture community while they are down, and when our domestic food supply depends on them more than ever, is just plain wrong. I strongly urge the USDA to put the wellbeing of Florida’s and America’s farmers first and rescind this misguided proposal.”
See more about Fried’s and others’ comments here.
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