US lifts ban on avocados from Mexico after drug cartel threat – New York Post

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The US has lifted a Mexican avocado ban, which started after American inspectors working in the nation were threatened by drug cartels, officials said.
USDA said it reached an agreement with Mexico’s Plant Protection Organization and the Packers Exporters of Mexico to resume inspection and exportation of avocados grown in Michoacan, according to a statement on Twitter.
That Mexican state is the only state currently authorized to exports avocados into the United States.
Avocados from Mexico were banned last week, after a USDA inspector working in Michoacan received a telephone threat from a Mexican drug cartel. The USDA decided to pause all avocado imports until the safety of its inspectors could be guaranteed.
“In the current case, an APHIS inspector questioned the integrity of a particular shipment and refused to certify based on concrete concerns,” said the USDA in a statement to The Post. “Subsequently, the USDA inspector’s supervisor received a phone threat to him and his family.”
The USDA says this isn’t the first time USDA personnel has been in danger.
“Security incidents in Mexico have not been limited to the avocado program,” said the USDA. “In 2020, a USDA employee conducting detection and eradication activities supporting our fruit fly and citrus pest and disease programs in Northern Mexico was murdered.”
This week, the USDA and its Mexican counterparts met with Mexican avocado growers, who presented enhanced security plans for USDA workers, said the Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM).
“APEAM, supported by the Mexican authorities, presented a comprehensive proposal to reinforce safety protocols and create an Intelligence and Security Unit within APEAM to support the export program,” said the APEAM in a press release. “The Governor of Michoacan made a commitment to immediately implement the operational security plan.”
The Mexican avocado ban happened just two days before the Super Bowl. The California Avocado Association told The Post the timing was actually good, since all the avocados needed for the Super Bowl, a time when many Americans consume avocados in guacamole, were already in the United States.
“Let’s just put it this way, it would have been a real challenge if this had happened two or three weeks ago,” said Ken Melbin of the California Avocado Association.
California provides less than 10 percent of the US’ avocados. In 2021, the United States imported $3.0 billion avocados, with $2.8 billion coming from Mexico (92%), according to the USDA.
In May, the USDA is expected to allow avocados from the Mexican state of Jalisco to be imported into the United States.
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