USDA extends comment period for Chilean table grapes import rules proposal
The pest risk assessment and commodity import evaluation for Chilean table grape imports to the U.S. will be open for comments until Jan. 17. The additional 30 business days given by the entity come in response to requests for an extension on the comment period.
Currently, table grapes from Chile must be fumigated with methyl bromide to mitigate for the Chilean false red mite, Brevipalpus chilensis, and the European Grapevine Moth, Lobesia botrana.
However, USDA’s proposal could allow the fruit to be imported under the systems approach from low-pest-prevalence areas in regions of Chile such as Atacama, Coquimbo, and Valparaíso.
If the proposal is approved, imports would also have to meet demanding requirements established. Alternative actions such as growers registration, permanent monitoring and joint inspection in origin would also be put in place to ensure a safe product.
The proposed importation agreement has been over 20 years in the making, with negotiations coming to a long awaited last mile in November.
“Even though the 30 days extension is not the optimum situation for the Chilean table grape industry, given the season has already started, we are optimistic that the process itself will continue moving forward and be successfully concluded soon,” said Andrés Rodríguez, Chile’s Agricultural attaché in the U.S.
The U.S. is currently the main destination market for Chilean table grapes, with the North American giant accounting for 30% of the volume for this product last season.
According to Rodríguez, the approach poses a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fumigation and also has the potential to improve overall fruit quality.
“We don’t expect this systems approach will impact volumes to the American market, the main effect will be on the quality of the product that will be available, in counter-season, helping the local season to have a stable demand throughout the year, and most important with a greener option,” he added.
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