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Ventura County Roundup | Countywide

USDA Puts Squeeze on Citrus Imports

October 11, 1998|JENNIFER HAMM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a four-month delay on action concerning the importation of Argentine citrus, signaling a victory for Ventura County lemon growers.

The USDA imposed the delay to consider ways to ensure that imported fruit does not contain medflies or other citrus pests.

"We must make sure that we protect the California citrus industry from the medfly, citrus cancer, black spots, sweet orange scab and other pests and diseases," Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said in a news release. "We must protect California residents from the possibility that they would be asked to endure another spraying of malathion."

Farmers say the USDA ruling buys them more time to learn about the quality of Argentine citrus.

"It's very costly to fight a disease that's imported, so we just want to make sure that everything is thought through well," said Will Gerry, a Camarillo citrus grower.

The USDA will hold a public hearing on the import regulations Dec. 17 at the Civics Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.

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