(July 6) Argentina’s lemon exporters expect to have access to the U.S. market under similar terms as Florida citrus marketers, one U.S.-based representative of Argentina exporters said in early July.

Like Florida, Argentina has citrus canker. In addition, Argentina has black spot fungus.

However, Dale McNiel, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney hired to represent northwest Argentina lemon exporters, said that he anticipates the U.S. Department of Agriculture could issue a pest risk assessment for Argentina lemons later this year — perhaps by late August or September.

“That is practically done,” he said, noting that the document is being worked on by Argentine and U.S. authorities.

The risk assessment might be followed in late winter or spring by a proposed rule to allow Argentina lemon exports to the U.S., McNiel said.

“We are going to push as hard as we can,” he said.

Because the USDA has already done the proposed rule for Florida citrus related to citrus canker, it ought to be a small matter to provide a mirror of the proposed rule for Argentina’s lemons, he said.

The USDA is accepting comments on the proposed rule for citrus shipments from Florida until July 23. However, Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, Exeter, said the industry may ask for more time to evaluate USDA’s proposed rule, which has a 30-day comment period provided by the department.

McNiel said Argentina lemon exporters would be satisfied with same access granted to Florida in the proposed rule — access to noncitrus states.

“It is not anything that needs a great deal of brainpower,” he said.

McNiel said the same post-harvest mitigation treatment for citrus canker is the same required for black spot fungus.

McNiel, who works with former USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials Bobby Acord and Patrick Collins in representing Argentina exporters, said the USDA also has requests from China and South Korea that citrus from those countries — both with canker — to begin the process that will lead to market access in the U.S.

He said U.S. international obligations require that imports must be treated in the same way as domestic fruit in regard to phytosanitary standards.