Local avocado producers will learn about the latest developments regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow the importation of Mexican fruit at a growers’ meeting Feb. 20.
During the 3 p.m. meeting at the Doubletree Hotel, 2055 Harbor Blvd., Ventura, officers from the California Avocado Commission will discuss the USDA’s lifting of an 83-year-old quarantine on Mexican fruit, permitting its importation to 19 Northeastern states from November through February.
Local growers say they are concerned about insect infestations because many of the imported avocados would be shipped through California on the way to the Northeast.
The USDA relaxed its long-standing ban on Mexican avocados Feb. 5. But imported avocados must carry individual labels stating their country of origin, and regular inspections of Mexican groves and packinghouses will be required to ensure that the crop is pest-free.
The state Avocado Commission fought the USDA’s proposal to relax the quarantine for the past two years, citing recent outbreaks of exotic pests such as the persea mite. Commission representatives fear that with no natural enemies in the state, exotic pests harbored in Mexican fruit could multiply unchecked, with devastating consequences for growers and the industry.