Chinese consumers will once again be able to enjoy citrus fruits from California. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced August 22 that U.S. exports of California citrus will resume in the 2014 season.
California-origin citrus was suspended from entering the Chinese market in April 2013 because of interceptions of brown rot (Phytophthora syringae), a soil fungus that affects stored fruit. Over the next year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked with China to address the country’s plant health concerns and reopen the market for California citrus exports, which 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,” Vilsack said.
Noting the importance of the Chinese market for U.S. citrus producers, Vilsack raised the plant-health issue with Chinese officials during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in December 2013. A series of scientific exchanges between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine resulted in an agreement for California citrus to again be exported to China. U.S. officials worked closely with the U.S. citrus industry to ensure the successful outcome.
In April, U.S. officials met to discuss a proposed work plan that included protocols to effectively reduce the pest risk on citrus products shipped to China. As a result of these discussions, U.S. and Chinese officials finalized an agreement to resume exports on August 3.