The Mexican government has relaxed some of its regulations on the light brown apple moth quarantine and will now accept U.S. Department of Agriculture trapping protocols for the light brown apple moth.

Under the agreement, agricultural commissioners in  Monterey and Santa Cruz counties can issue phytosanitary certificates for strawberries to be shipped to Mexico. A strict Mexican ban continues for strawberries grown in Santa Barbara County. Strawberry growers exported fruit worth nearly $2 million to Mexico last year.

The move brought praise from California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura.

"California agricultural producers were genuinely worried that the net effect of the trapping requirement would be a shutdown in Mexico for their crops," says Kawamura, who was involved in a family-run strawberry operation in Orange County, Calif., before assuming the secretary's role. "Although there are still regulations in place that require compliance, these regulations are viable and will enable our producers to continue to provide high-quality California products to Mexican consumers."

In addition, Mexico agreed to remove the counties of Napa and Los Angeles from its list of regulated counties because light brown apple moth infestations have been eradicated there.

Mexico announced regulations for the light brown apple moth that included a host list of 25 plants and crops. Last week, along with the trapping requirements and other measures, Mexico updated the list to include at least 93 items, including broad plant families that could result in a significant increase to that number as more information is obtained. The newly regulated crops include berries, corn, squash, carrots and broccoli.

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hawaii. The range of host plants is broad with more than 2,000 plant species, including citrus, grapes, and deciduous fruit tree crops.

As of March 14, the state had trapped 17,991 moths in 13 California counties.

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