Grapefruit Issues Tackled by Mutual

Ernie Neff Grapefruit

The Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM) Triangle newsletter recently updated efforts to have the federal government rescind an action that suspended the juice content requirements on imported grapefruit.

In early October, the domestic grapefruit industry was made aware of a “patch” that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had issued in April of this year suspending the juice content requirements on imported grapefruit to the United States. The practical impact of this patch is that foreign producers are held to a lesser quality standard than domestic grapefruit growers.

Since the suspension of juice requirements on imports, the volume of grapefruit from Mexico has increase by more than 400% year-over-year. According to a study by Texas A&M University, of the grapefruit coming across the southern border 85% would have been rejected under the standards the domestic industry is held to.

This flood of cheap, poor-quality fruit into the domestic market not only puts U.S. growers at a competitive disadvantage but it also poses the real threat of diminishing the consumers’ appetite for fresh grapefruit as they purchase substandard product that doesn’t meet their expectations.

Immediately upon learning of this change in requirements, FCM began working closely with its counterparts in Texas and California to persuade the USDA to rescind the “patch.” FCM has participated in calls and in-person meetings with officials from the highest levels of the USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to find a resolution to this issue and is still working through the necessary process to restore juice content requirements on both domestic and imported fruit.

Meanwhile, FCM was successful in securing a $6 million dollar Section 32 purchase of fresh grapefruit to help growers impacted by the excessive volume of inferior Mexican fruit pouring into the market.

FCM is appreciative of the assistance that USDA is providing in trying to resolve this issue as well as the support shown through the last-minute purchase of fresh grapefruit. FCM looks forward to continuing to work together to ensure that uniform standards are in place before next season.

Source: Florida Citrus Mutual

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