USDA block some citrus shipments
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday issued restrictions preventing the shipment of tree-grown Florida citrus fruits to other citrus-producing states, citing the need to prevent the spread of citrus canker that has hit trees in central and southern Florida.
Florida agriculture officials have been lobbying the USDA to consider less stringent measures to prevent the spread of canker, but the agency went ahead with the restrictions, effective June 6. Florida can still ship citrus fruits to the 45 states that do not grow citrus. But the decision impacts the key markets of California and Texas, as well as Arizona and Louisiana.
The canker has been present in southern Florida for several years, but hurricanes over the last two years spread the bacterial disease into the highly productive citrus growing region in Central Florida.
'If a citrus-producing state has a disease, you can imagine the other citrus-producing states don't want to be exposed to any potential contamination,' USDA spokesman Jim Rogers was quoted as saying in the Miami Herald.
The Herald report said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said his office is considering a legal challenge.
State officials have noted that a recent report issued by the USDA said that if citrus fruit is treated properly it will not carry the citrus canker.