Late last month, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a proposed rule amending fruits and vegetables regulations to permit the importation of Hass avocados from Colombia into the United States. APHIS currently restricts importation of fruits and vegetables from certain countries to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States. Accordingly, per the proposed regulations, as a condition of entry, Hass avocados from Colombia would have to be produced under a “systems approach.” This would require, among other conditions, registration and monitoring of places of avocado production, pest-free warehouses, pest control practices, and inspection for pests by Colombian officials. Grove sanitation, harvesting and packinghouse requirements are also detailed in the proposed rule.
Additionally, under the proposed regulations, only “commercial consignments” will be permitted. According to APHIS, noncommercial shipments are more prone to infestations and usually grown without pest control. Colombia requested access to the U.S. market as avocado imports have recently increased. APHIS attributes this growth to a “growing Hispanic U.S. population,” increased awareness of the avocado’s “health benefits,” and “year-round availability of fresh Hass avocados.” APHIS estimates Colombia will export 10,000 metric tons of Hass avocados annually to the United States.
Comments on this proposed rule may be submitted here until December 27, 2016.