The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently proposed to amend the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the importation of fresh apples from China into the continental United States.
It might seem strange to invite the world’s No. 1 apple producer to be an importer, but growers, especially those in Washington who produce about two-thirds of the U.S. crop, need to develop new export markets. U.S. apple consumption has remained largely flat over the past few decades, and by opening U.S. borders to Chinese apples, American growers should in turn be able to gain access to the biggest market in the world. It’s also a market that is growing much, much faster than that of the U.S.
According to APHIS, there would be protections in place from Chinese pests, even in those areas where Oriental fruit fly is not known to exist.
“We are proposing to amend the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the importation of fresh apples (Malus pumila) from China into the continental United States,” states the introduction to the proposed rule. “As a condition of entry, apples from areas in China in which the Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) is not known to exist would have to be produced in accordance with a systems approach that would include requirements for registration of places of production and packinghouses, inspection for quarantine pests at set intervals by the national plant protection organization of China, bagging of fruit, safeguarding, labeling, and importation in commercial consignments.”
However, there would be additional safeguards when importation is from places where the fly has been found.
“Apples from areas in China in which Oriental fruit fly is known to exist could be imported into the continental United States if, in addition to these requirements, the apples are treated with fumigation plus refrigeration. All apples from China would also be required to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that all conditions for the importation of the apples have been met and that the consignment of apples has been inspected and found free of quarantine pests. This action would allow for the importation of apples from China into the continental United States while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests,” the proposed rule concludes.
The full details of the proposal and the opportunity to comment on the proposal are found here. APHIS will consider all comments that they receive on or before Sept. 16.
Source: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service