USDA asks India to delay new rules requiring methyl bromide fumigation, cold treatment for apple, pear imports; U.S. apple, pear exports to India totaled 72,451 tonnes during the January-November period

LOS ANGELES , February 8, 2012 () – On Feb. 7, Christian Dellis, a spokesperson for the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, said that the USDA had sent a formal request to the India government to delay the implementation of new rules—scheduled to go into effect by the end of March—that require apple and pear imports to be subjected to methyl bromide fumigation and cold treatment, The Packer reported the same day.

The request, which was sent on Feb. 6, asked India to delay implementing the new rules for a year to provide the U.S. with sufficient time to comment on and raise any potential concerns regarding the new policy.

Dellis added that, thus far, the agency had not received a response from the Indian government.

As stated in the proposed regulation, U.S. growing regions are no longer recognized to be free of the Mediterranean fruit fly by the Indian government.

According to Mike Willett, the Northwest Horticulture Council’s vice president for scientific affairs, any confusion resulting from the new requirements must be dealt with by the week of Feb. 20 due to the time needed for transport.

Mark Seetin, Vienna, the director of regulatory and industry affairs at U.S. Apple, said the measures appear to be a trade barrier.

For the U.S. apple industry, India has become an increasingly important market. From January to November 2011, U.S. apple exports to India totaled 70,000 tonnes. In 2006, U.S. apple exports to India for the entire year totaled 30,000 tonnes.

In 2011, the three largest exporters of U.S. apples were: Mexico (174,000 tonnes), Canada (113,000 tonnes) and India.

From January to November 2011, U.S. pear exports to India totaled 2,451 tonnes. In 2006, U.S. pear exports for the entire year totaled less than 1,000 tonnes.

The primary source of this article is The Packer, Lincolnshire, Illinois, on Feb. 7, 2012.

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