U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida recently urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to re-implement a prohibition on the importation of five varieties of citrus from China.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in April 2020 decided to allow the importation of the Chinese varieties.
“The USDA’s decision continues to risk an increase in unfair trade competition by Chinese government-subsidized products and could be exposing domestic growers to a host of invasive pests and diseases,” the senators wrote in a letter to Vilsack. “The department’s April 15, 2020 notice included details of the Pest Risk Assessment (PRA) of allowing imports of these citrus products from China, including a list of species that are likely to enter the United States. The PRA identified 15 pest species of mites, fruit flies and moths and two pathogens, including those that cause citrus canker and citrus black spot diseases, which could ‘cause unacceptable impacts’ if they enter the U.S. via imports of these Chinese citrus products.”
They added that risking the introduction of invasive species and diseases into the United States “is irresponsible, especially given our knowledge of how citrus greening previously entered our country by imported citrus and is spread by an invasive pest species, the Asian citrus psyllid.”
The senators stated that Florida citrus growers in recent years have suffered the impacts of hurricanes, unfairly priced imports and greening disease. They pointed out that the devastating greening disease originated in China and spread to the United States from imported citrus.
“The federal government and the state of Florida have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to research citrus greening and to slow its spread and find a cure,” the letter concluded. “Continuing to allow citrus imports from China could further harm Florida’s citrus growers and risks undermining the progress that has been made through these investments.”
Source: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
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