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US stops some avocado shipments from Mexico over security concerns

US stops some avocado shipments from Mexico over security concerns
US stops some avocado shipments from Mexico over security concerns

 


(Bloomberg) — The United States has suspended some new shipments of avocados from Mexico after an incident that reportedly threatened the safety of U.S. agricultural inspectors.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture informed the Association of Avocado Growers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) of its decision to halt new exports from Michoacan on June 14, according to a notice from the trade group seen by Bloomberg News. Although the statement did not describe the incident, local press reports said two inspectors were detained against their will and assaulted amid a protest over police salaries. The USDA informed the trade group that no activities related to fruit shipments would take place, the notice said.

In an emailed statement, a USDA spokesperson said it had suspended inspections of avocados and mangoes in the region until further notice due to safety concerns for its staff in Michoacan. Programs will remain on pause until the security situation is reviewed and safeguards are put in place for staff.

Mexican exports are not blocked, the USDA spokesperson said, although the move would halt the importation of any uninspected shipments. Avocados and mangoes already in transit will not be affected, the spokesperson said.

APEAM President Julio Sahagun Calderon said in a statement Monday that the group is working intensively and closely with government authorities at the national and international levels to revive the export of Michoacan avocados to the United States. . The incident that led to the pause was beyond the industry's control, he added.

Avocado exports from Jalisco have not been affected and are operating normally, Sahagun said in the statement.

U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar will meet next week with Michoacan state Governor Alfredo Ramirez Bedolla and export representatives to address security in the region, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The suspension is the second imposed by the United States on Mexican avocados in the past two and a half years, temporarily cutting off Americans' main supply of the popular fruit. Mexico exports the vast majority of its avocados to the United States.

Mexican authorities have struggled to maintain security conditions in Michoacan state, the country's largest avocado producer, where gang violence and extortion are endemic. A ban in February 2022, triggered by a threat against an inspector, lasted a week while the Michoacan government implemented a security plan.

The story continues

–With the help of José Orozco.

(Updates to add Salazar meeting details in seventh paragraph.)

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