The next step in a process that could result in all Mexican states being allowed to export avocados to the U.S. should be completed this year.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture pest risk assessment of Mexican states hoping to export to the U.S. is expected to be done “in the coming months,” Workabeba Yigzaw, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said Jan. 23.

When the pest risk assessment is finished, APHIS will make it available for public review and comment, Yigzaw said.

“Should APHIS consider expanding the export program, it would subsequently make a proposed rule and the updated (pest risk assessment) available for public review and comment before determining how to proceed regarding Mexico’s request,” Yigzaw said.

Currently, Michoacan is the only Mexican state that can export avocados to the U.S. In 2009, Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) asked APHIS to consider allowing imports from all Mexican states.

One state eager for USDA approval, Jalisco, has ramped up its production significantly, said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board.

“Jalisco has become an important supplier of avocados for the domestic market and other export markets like Japan, Canada and Central America, filling in the gap created by Michoacan’s surge in exports to the U.S. and other markets,” Escobedo said.