The European Union has dropped its citrus canker requirements for US groves signalling the start of an upturn in exports which will now be much easier due to the change in rules.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the end of its requirements that US citrus groves be surveyed for citrus canker, a disease causing lesions on the leaves, stems and fruit of citrus trees including lime, oranges and grapefruit.
Exports are expected to increase 25% in the first year.
“The EU maintains a number of unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) barriers on US agricultural exports, and we have long called on the EU to base its SPS measures on science,” said acting US trade representative Stephen Vaughn.
“The action removes a longstanding and unfair barrier and will help return US citrus exports to the EU to the levels we had a decade ago.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) have been working over the last decade to ensure import requirements for citrus are based on scientifically-established risks.
The new change in rules requires countries where citrus canker has been detected to have a disease management programme and to ensure that exported fruit have no symptoms.
According to the USDA, the EU’s change “means they are satisfied with APHIS’s disease management programme” and a result US producers will save an estimated US$5.6 million (£4.3 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,” Agriculture secretary Sonny 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.”
The easing of the rules is particularly welcome for the Florida grapefruit sector as producers in the state grow the fruit on 25,000 acres of land, of which 70% is intended for shipment to the EU market.