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USDA overstated risks of Colombian avocado imports

Staff Writer | January 24, 2017
The USDA, through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agency, announced that it had overstated that fear, due to what seems to be a clerical error.
Colombian avocado
Food trade   Colombian Hass avocados in the United States
A more recent risk assessment has revealed that the perceived threat presented by a pest called the pink hibiscus mealybug was unfounded.

“We have subsequently determined that growing conditions for Hass avocados in Colombia, as well as the standard packing house practices, used to prepare the fruit for commercial export, effectively preclude the pink hibiscus mealybug from following the pathway from Colombia to the continental United States,” said APHIS in a statement.

The confusion came from the fact that the original pest risk assessment released “was not the latest iteration that had been prepared,” said APHIS.

In short, Colombia’s safeguards to prevent this pest are already sufficiently stringent and this was known by officials in October. But the paperwork included in the document reflected outdated info.

So with this realization, the agency has now reopened the comment period that will precede its plan to propose the legal change that will allow Colombian Hass avocados into the United States.

While some barriers may still remain, the fact that there is no significant pink hibiscus mealybug risk could streamline the implementation requirements at Colombia’s end before farmers there can begin exporting their avocados to the world’s largest market.