ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lifted a ban on avocado imports from Mexico, reports CNBC. The agency suspended the import of avocados last week following a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico reportedly received a threatening message.
The agency says that additional safety measures have been put in place by the U.S. Embassy, Mexico’s national plant protection organization and an avocado trade group.
Last year, 92% of avocados consumed in the U.S. came from Mexico, and experts warned of record-high prices and shortages if the issue wasn’t resolved quickly. The brief pause in imports happened during peak growing season for Mexican avocados, which lasts from January to March.
Avocado exports are the latest victim of the drug cartel turf battles and extortion of avocado growers in the western state of Michoacán, the only state in Mexico fully authorized to export to the U.S. market, reports the Associated Press, though a second one, Jalisco, recently received approval to start exporting its avocados this summer.
According to the U.S. Embassy, “facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand.”
The drug cartel turf wars in Michoacán previously threatened avocados, the state’s most lucrative crop, in 2019. In August 2019, a U.S. Department of Agriculture team of inspectors were robbed at gunpoint, and the USDA had warned about the possible consequences of attacking or threatening U.S. inspectors after the incident.