Mexican lime producers halt shipments to protest USDA rejections
More than 150 growers and packers of lemons and Persian limes in Mexico suspended exports to the United States to protest that country’s rejection of shipments due to the disease sweet orange scab, Mexican newspaper El Universal reported.
The groups halted shipments Dec. 13, the day that the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed lime shipments to resume under stricter rules to ensure that the fruit does not have the disease, the report said.
César Cortés Bello, director of Mexico’s lime growers and exporters council, said the group was preparing a report accusing the U.S. of violating the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said that 49 containers were blocked, causing losses of 500 million Mexican Pesos (US $40.3 million).
“We will stop sending limes for one or two weeks, even though it will affect our farms, but if we don’t, the United States will always keep us down,” he is quoted as saying.
A USDA spokeswoman told FreshFruitPortal.com Dec. 14 that the lime shipments were blocked because visual inspections turned up more possible incidences of sweet orange scab, which causes scab-like lesions on the rinds and can cause fruit to all off the tree early.
Lime shipments must have a phytosanitary certificate and declarations that they are free of sweet orange scab symptoms.