Changes Proposed for Citrus From Australia

Ernie NeffExport/Import

Australia

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently proposed to expand the production areas in Australia from which fresh fruit may be sent to the United States. It also proposed to revise the conditions under which citrus from Australia may be sent to the United States.

Currently, APHIS allows the entry of fresh citrus fruit from the Riverina region of New South Wales District, the Riverland region of South Australia and the Sunraysia region in Northwest Victoria District with restrictions. Under the proposal, APHIS would authorize three additional areas of Australia to export citrus to the United States: the inland region of Queensland, the regions that compose Western Australia and the shires of Bourke and Narromine within New South Wales.

Dan Richey, president of Riverfront Packing Company in Vero Beach, Florida, is heavily involved in fresh citrus trade issues. This fall, he gave an update on trade issues impacting fresh Florida citrus. Richey reacted to the Australia news: “We certainly hope that the USDA did their appropriate due diligence to ensure the safety of this fruit being imported to our shores,” he said. “Obviously this southern hemisphere fruit will be contra-season for our industry here in Florida, but it could infringe on the wings of our season, late and early. The products they will export (navels and specialties) will have a larger impact on California than on Florida. We advocate for science-based market access. I assume that the USDA has evaluated the safety of the science and acted appropriately.

“The frustrating piece of all this, as an exporter, is that we (The United States) seem to play by the rules, while countries we wish to gain access to don’t. They put delay tactics in place that preclude us appropriate timely access to their markets.”

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APHIS scientists prepared a pest risk assessment (PRA) and a commodity import evaluation document (CIED). The CIED identifies the phytosanitary measures that could be applied to ensure citrus fruit from new areas of Australia can be safely imported without increasing the risk of introducing pests. After careful analysis, APHIS officials are proposing to authorize the importation of citrus fruit from additional areas of production in Australia.

The PRA and CIED will be available for review and comment in the Federal Register until Feb. 16. See http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0078 for more information.

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About the Author
Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large