Citrus leaders irate over Trump admin. decision
tulare county – Citrus farmers, a believed solid voting block for President Donald Trump in California, are questioning whether they backed the right horse for them. Last week the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) announced that it will not extend the stay of the final regulation on the importation of fresh lemons from Argentina into the United States despite dire consequences to the U.S. citrus industry.
“It is evident that the California citrus industry is the pawn in a greater trade deal between the Trump Administration and Argentina,” says Ventura County citrus grower and chair of the Santa Paula, Calif.-based U.S. Citrus Science, Richard Pidduck. “The announcement by APHIS comes only days after President Trump’s meeting with Argentinean president Mauricio Macri and preempts scheduled meetings between U.S. citrus representatives and senior officials at APHIS and the U.S. Trade Representatives this week.”
Pidduck was also caught off guard by the abruptness of the announcement, as APHIS made the announcement without prior notice to the citrus industry.
“The haste in which this announcement was made is nothing less than disrespectful and I am extremely disappointed by the Administration’s complete disregard for domestic citrus producers and the impact of this rule to the California fresh lemon industry,” Pidduck said.
In response to the announcement, Exeter based California Citrus Mutual President and USCSC board member Joel Nelson said, “Allowing the importation of lemons from Argentina is a complete departure by the Administration from its self-proclaimed stance against trade policies that place the American businesses at a disadvantage. The rule will open the flood gates to pests and diseased known to be in Argentina that could threaten our domestic lemon supply.”
Nelsen went on to note that the rule making process is fraught with inconsistencies, ignores transparency, and, “dismisses the scientific and economic data that prove the rule will have significant negative consequences for California’s $3 billion fresh citrus industry.”
“It appears that to President Trump’s Administration, the prosperity of the California citrus industry, which is one of the only fresh citrus industries in the world to have not been ravished by the devastating Huanglongbing disease, is not ‘critical to America’s national security, stability, and prosperity’,” Nelsen added.