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Import Rift More About Money Than Insects

August 08, 2004

Years of spiraling prices have been supremely frustrating for avocado enthusiasts ("Avocado Growers See Mexican Threat," July 22).

What was once an inexpensive item has morphed into something akin to produce-aisle caviar. But unlike caviar, which is produced from dwindling, over-farmed species, avocados are an agricultural crop whose supply can be readily adapted to meet demand.

In Mexico, avocados remain plentiful and relatively cheap, their prices in line with other agricultural items. Why, then, have avocado prices in the United States risen astronomically compared with those of other produce?

California avocado growers enjoy cartel-like market control courtesy of the federal government; they benefit from artificially restricted supply at consumers' expense.

Because ending the importation ban would kill off a sweet deal for U.S. growers, it is clear that maintaining the ban is a battle that growers will fight for desperately.

Because their only ammunition is alleged infestation risks, propaganda exaggerating the danger is their only publicity weapon.

Fred Dougherty


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