China will have to jump through some hoops, but it may soon be able to sell previously barred citrus fruit in the United States, specifically fresh pomelo, mandarin orange, ponkan (tangerine), sweet orange and Satsuma mandarin fruit.
On Thursday, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published the proposed rule, which would allow the importation of fresh citrus fruit from China into the continental U.S. The agency invited public comment on the rule for 60 days, ending on Oct. 27, 2014.
Currently, APHIS rules on fruits and vegetables do not permit the import of fresh citrus from China into the U.S. out of concern about certain plant pests. APHIS has received a request from China’s national plant protection organization (NPPO) to allow importation of five citrus fruit species into the U.S.
APHIS proposes to let the Chinese fruit into the U.S. under a condition of entry that includes registration of places of production and packing houses, sourcing of pest-free propagative material, inspection for quarantine pests at set intervals by the NPPO, bagging of fruit, safeguarding post-harvest processing and sampling, and importation in commercial consignment.
Chinese fruit growers would also have to trap for several species of Bactrocera fruit flies, and the fruit would have to be treated for those species of fruit flies. Only fruit that was inspected and found free of pests could be shipped to the U.S.
A pest risk assessment conducted by APHIS identified 22 quarantine pests that could use packed citrus from China as a pathway to the U.S. The NPPO in China will have to provide an operational work plan with detailed procedures, including treatment details.
The importation notice contains no information on the actual distribution of Chinese-grown citrus fruit in the U.S. Comments on the proposed rule are being accepted here.