The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has extended from July 11 to Aug. 10 the deadline for public comments on a proposed rule that would allow the importation of fresh lemon fruit from northwest Argentina into the continental U.S. APHIS has determined that such lemons can be safely imported utilizing a systems approach that would require a number of safeguards, including registration and monitoring of production places and packinghouses; pest-free places of production; grove sanitation, monitoring and pest control practices; fruit disinfection and treatment with fungicide; lot identification and traceability to the place of production; and inspection for quarantine pests by the Argentine national plant protection organization. 

Lemons would have to be harvested green within a certain time period or treated for Mediterranean fruit fly in accordance with an approved treatment schedule. In addition, all shipments would require a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that they have been inspected and found to be free of quarantine pests and were produced in accordance with the proposed requirements. APHIS will also conduct a second site visit to Argentina to verify that the country has fully implemented the terms of the operational work plan before this rule is finalized and shipments take place.

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