Jim Rogers (202) 690-4755
Jerry Redding (202) 720-4623
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2006--With the holiday season in full swing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would like to remind Florida residents who traditionally send fresh citrus to out-of-state family and friends about new shipping restrictions in place to prevent the spread of citrus canker.
On Aug. 2, 2006, APHIS published an interim rule that established specific requirements that must be met in order to move fresh citrus fruit out of the state of Florida. The regulations are designed to prevent the spread of citrus canker to other citrus-producing states while preserving Florida's fresh fruit citrus market. Under current federal regulations, all shipments of fresh citrus are prohibited from leaving Florida unless they meet certain requirements, including:
Florida residents purchasing citrus directly from citrus packers should request a limited permit to accompany their purchase if they plan to ship the fruit out of state. Under no circumstances may Florida citrus be shipped to the citrus-producing states and territories of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Texas and American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and all of the hundreds of smaller mail outlets throughout Florida have been notified not to accept Florida citrus that does not meet the new requirements for shipment outside the state.
In January 2006, it was determined that citrus canker eradication in Florida was no longer a scientifically feasible option. Since that time APHIS has worked closely with state partners and other stakeholders to implement a new science-based approach to managing citrus canker.
Current federal shipping regulations provide the greatest scientific assurance to other citrus-producing states and export markets that their citrus will remain disease-free. We are therefore asking all Florida residents and shipping outlets to join us in the effort to stop the spread of citrus canker by moving interstate only citrus fruit that meets APHIS requirements.
The interim rule is only intended to cover this shipping season. APHIS will reevaluate the current approach based on any new science and adjust our regulations accordingly for the following shipping season.
More information on citrus canker can found at: /newsroom/hot_issues/citrus_canker/
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet. Go to the APHIS news release page at /lpa/newsroom. Also, anyone with an e-mail address can sign up to receive APHIS press releases automatically. Send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject blank. In the message, type subscribe press_ releases.