EU drops citrus canker requirement for U.S. imports

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EU drops citrus canker requirement for U.S. imports

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn have announced that the European Union (EU) has dropped its requirement that U.S. citrus groves be surveyed for citrus canker. 

A release from the U.S. Department of Agricutlure (USDA) said the development would ease the entry of U.S. citrus into the EU market and save growers millions of dollars in production costs.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have been working with EU officials over the last decade to ensure import requirements for citrus "are based on scientifically-established risks," the release said.

The new EU directive requires countries where citrus canker has been detected to have a disease management program and to ensure that exported fruit have no symptoms. 

The change means European authorities are satisfied with APHIS’s disease management program, the release said. As a result, grove surveys are no longer required, saving U.S. producers an estimated US$5.6 million per year.

“At USDA, everything we do is grounded in sound science, so it is good to see that the EU has seen that our disease management program protects our citrus products,” Secretary Perdue said. 

“When we rely on science, it levels the playing field for everyone. And when the playing field is level, American agriculture will win.”  

Vaughn said the EU maintained "a number of unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers on U.S. agricultural exports", and the U.S. had long called "to base its SPS measures on science."

“Today’s action removes a longstanding and unfair barrier and will help return U.S. citrus exports to the EU to the levels we had a decade ago," he said.

Florida producers grow 25,000 acres of grapefruit, of which 70% is intended for shipment to the EU market, according to industry estimates. Industry estimates that citrus exports are expected to increase by 25%, or about US$15 million, during the first year.

Implementation of the new directive is expected in time for Florida’s grapefruit export season in mid-November.


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