The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is authorizing the importation of five types of commercially produced fresh citrus fruit from China into the continental United States.
After thorough analysis, APHIS scientists determined that pummelo, Nanfeng honey mandarin, ponkan, sweet orange, and Satsuma mandarin fruit from China can be safely imported into the United States under a systems approach to protect against the introduction of plant pests, officials said.
As part of the Phase One trade deal with China, APHIS was required to act to approve Chinese citrus access to the United States. California Citrus Mutual submitted comments opposing the move based on technical pest concerns related to APHIS' systems approach, the organization stated in a news release.
"However, California citrus shipments to China with reduced tariffs would have been in jeopardy had APHIS not followed through on their commitment," CCM explains in the release.
A systems approach is a series of measures taken by growers, packers, and shippers that, in combination, minimize pest risks prior to importation into the United States.
In this case, the systems approach includes importation in commercial consignments only, registration of places of production and packinghouses, certification that the fruit is free of quarantine pests, trapping program for fruit flies, periodic inspections of places of production, grove sanitation, and postharvest disinfection and treatment, according to APHIS.
Neither CCM nor APHIS believe that Chinese citrus will be exported to the U.S. in any significant quantity, but the citrus growers' group says it will continue to monitor both the economic and phytosanitary issues if imports escalate.