US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Acting US Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn have announced that the European Union (EU) has amended its requirements for imports of US citrus. Specifically, the EU has dropped its requirement that US groves be surveyed for citrus canker, which eases entry of US citrus into the EU market and saves growers millions of dollars in production costs.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) have worked continuously with EU officials over the last 10 years to ensure that the EU’s plant health requirements for citrus are based on scientifically-established risks. 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 EU’s change means they are satisfied with APHIS’s disease management program. As a result, grove surveys are no longer required, saving US producers an estimated $5.6 million dollars 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.”
“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 USTR Stephen Vaughn. “Today’s 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.”
Florida producers grow 25,000 acres of grapefruit, of which 70 percent is intended for shipment to the EU market, according to industry estimates. Industry estimates that citrus exports are expected to increase by 25 percent, or about $15 million, during the first year.
Implementation of the new directive is expected in time for Florida’s grapefruit export season in mid-November.