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Response Letter Regarding Lemon Imports from Argentina

U.S. Seneter Dianne Feinstein

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Mr. Kelsey:

Thank you for writing to me regarding lemon imports from Argentina.  You are one of many Californians who have written to me about this issue, and I want to respond to you personally.

I understand that you have concerns about a forthcoming final rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would reauthorize lemon imports to the United States from Argentina.  I recognize that this rule, if finalized, would affect the American citrus industry.  As you know, California dominates domestic lemon production.  You will be pleased to learn that my staff and I are actively working to address this issue.

Most recently, I successfully secured inclusion of report language in the Senate bill (S. 2956) to fund USDA programs for fiscal year 2017.  This provision would require the USDA to delay finalizing its rule until that agency completes additional in-country inspections for citrus disease and pest risks in Argentina.  This provision would also require the USDA to allow additional public comment from the American citrus industry--including California lemon growers--and conduct an extensive analysis to examine the economic impacts of reauthorizing Argentine lemon imports.  All of these criteria would need to be met before the USDA could finalize its rule for Argentine lemon imports.

I hope that any year-end legislation to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2017 will include my report language for the USDA's rule on future Argentine lemon imports.  In the meantime, please know that I continue working to ensure that lemon imports do not endanger the American citrus industry.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which determines funding for the USDA, I am committed to securing the resources necessary for federal regulators, inspectors, and customs officials to prevent plant pests, crop diseases, or invasive species from being imported into the United States.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write.  I hope you will continue to keep me informed on issues of importance to you. 

Best regards.

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator