USDA Reopens Chinese Market Access for California Citrus

Source: CDFA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that California citrus farmers will be able to resume exports to China this season. California citrus exports are valued at $30 million annually.

“Resuming trade before the start of the 2014 citrus shipping season is the result of a lot of effort by a number of USDA employees, who worked very closely with their foreign counterparts to resolve China’s concerns,” said Vilsack. “Their extra effort means California citrus growers can once again ship to this important market.”

A series of scientific exchanges between the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) resulted in an agreement for California citrus to again be exported to China.  APHIS and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service worked closely with the U.S. citrus industry to ensure the successful outcome.

In April 2013, California-origin citrus was suspended from entering the Chinese market due to interceptions of brown rot (Phytophthora syringae), a soil fungus that affects stored fruit.  Over the next year, USDA worked with China to address China’s plant health concerns and reopen the market for California citrus exports.

Noting the importance of the Chinese market for U.S. citrus producers, Secretary Vilsack raised the issue with Chinese officials during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in December 2013.  In April 2014, APHIS and AQSIQ officials met to discuss a proposed work plan that included protocols to effectively reduce the pest risk on citrus product shipped to China.  As a result of these discussions, U.S. and China officials finalized an agreement to resume exports on Aug. 3, 2014.

The Obama Administration, with Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, has significantly expanded export opportunities and reduced barriers to trade, helping to push agricultural exports to record levels.  U.S. agriculture is experiencing its best period in history thanks to the productivity, resiliency, and resourcefulness of our producers and agribusinesses.

Today, net farm income is at record levels while debt has been halved since the 1980s.  Overall, American agriculture supports one in 12 jobs in the United States and provides American consumers with 83 percent of the food we consume, while maintaining affordability and choice. Strong agricultural exports contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs, boost economic growth and support President Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling all U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

China re-opens market to California citrus

Source: FreshFruitPortal.com

Industry sources have told www.freshfruitportal.com that China has officially granted access to California citrus after a 15-month absence.

California Citrus Mutual vice president Bob Blakely said he received official notification from the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Friday, and was very pleased the sector could regain what was its third-largest market until April, 2013.

“There was a delegation that came over and visited the California industry in the first week of July, to see what our industry was doing to satisfy their concerns, and in those meetings the language [of a protocol] was discussed and further refined, and agreements were made in principle,” Blakely said, adding the main concern was phytophthora root rot.

“Originally they were looking to have additional sampling or something done that wasn’t practical, because it would not have mitigated the problem.

“Once they came here and saw how our fruit was produced and the conditions in the field, they realized that some of those things they put in there weren’t clear in their understanding, and that wasn’t necessary.”

He said clearer language was then put in place about how growers wishing to export ought to manage trees and the harvest to make sure the disease was not present in China-bound fruit.

After these agreements were agreed, he highlighted “the way was clear” for a market re-opening and official documents were signed in the last week of July.

The executive added the first fruit would likely be sent in December, following the Navel harvest which kicks off in November.

California Citrus Quality Council president Jim Cranney also mentioned the main export season would start in the fall or winter, but there would be some volumes of Valencia oranges and lemons ready to go now if shippers wished to exploit the newfound option.

“The market has been re-opened effective yesterday, and we’re very pleased to see this after such a long time out of the market, and that we’ll be able to send citrus again,” Cranney said.

“We’re looking forward to getting back a normal pace of trade with China.”

He said it was necessary to recognize the positive efforts from APHIS and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“It’s important to emphasize the job APHIS did by being proactive and how they worked together with the authorities from China, their partners at AQSIQ.

“It’s also important to recognize that AQSIQ did a good job in assessing the technical package we sent and we’re very happy that we meet their expectations.”