All Lemon is redoubling its efforts to ensure that Argentine lemons receive a clean bill of health in response to threats that access to key markets could be curtailed.
With Spanish producers pressuring the European Union to introduce stricter controls on citrus imports to protect against the entry of citrus black spot and news that the new Trump administration has postponed a rule to lift a 16-year ban and re-open the US market, All Lemon’s vice president Carlos Parravicini says phytosanitary controls are the association’s number one priority.
“All of our efforts and resources are focused on the prevention phytosanitary diseases, we cannot stress this enough,” he told Fruitnet.
Commenting on the announcement by APHIS last week that it would defer the publication of the final rule by 60 days, All Lemon’s Walter Ojeda said: “the ball is now in their court – it remains to be seen whether APHIS will ratify, amend or cancel the rule after the 60 days are up. Until that point there’s little point in drawing up a concrete strategy – we would rather take things step by step.”
The USDA’s decision threatens to tarnish an otherwise promising outlook for the year after a successful 2016 campaign. A return to normal production following years of freezes and droughts; the shortage of Spanish lemons and the lower exchange rate and more favourable economic policies introduced by Mauricio Macri’s new government all proved a boon for exports.
“Volume-wise it was a very good campaign, with the fall in production of Spanish Verna allowing us to extend our export season and increase our shipment volume,” explained Ojeda.
Production-wise, volumes in 2017 are expected to be similar to last year, with the crop weighing in at 1.5-1.6m tonnes. Ojeda said it was too early to talk about export volumes, and much would depend on the size of Northern Hemisphere crops, particularly in Spain and Turkey.