The state agriculture commissioners for Florida and Texas recently urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to reinstate juice content requirements on grapefruit imports. They stated that a so-called “patch” issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture creates unfair advantages for Mexico and other countries over domestic grapefruit producers.
“There appears to have been a ‘patch’ quietly issued earlier this year eliminating juice content requirements for fresh grapefruit being imported from Mexico and other countries while the domestic industry is still required to adhere to these standards,” Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried stated in her letter to Vilsack. “This deeply troubling action is creating further unfair advantages for Mexico and others over our domestic industry, which is already facing challenges when it comes to citrus greening as well as loss of access to foreign markets due to supply chain issues causing backlogs at U.S. ports. This misguided move also stands to have a lasting devastating effect on the domestic industry if consumers turn away from fresh grapefruit overall due to receiving sub-standard foreign imports, with estimates that 80% of the fruit coming across the southern border do not meet juice content standards. With Florida’s grapefruit season kicking off now, time is of the essence when it comes to correcting this issue. I urge you to direct officials in your department to immediately reinstate juice content requirements on grapefruit imports so that our domestic industry is treated fairly … We need federal action to level the playing field for our seasonal producers and citrus farmers.”
In a similar letter, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller told Vilsack that allowing Mexico to bypass standards that Texas must adhere to will hurt Texas producers’ price as well as consumers’ perception of grapefruit.
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