US suspends avocado imports from Mexican state after threats

US suspends avocado imports from Mexican state after threats

The United States suspended avocado imports from the western Mexican state of Michoacan after a US inspector received phone threats, Mexican authorities reported on Sunday. 

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Mexico City to seek a solution and resume exports, a state government press release said.

The US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service had announced late Saturday it had "decided to pause, until further notice, avocado inspection activities in Michoacan," the federal government said in a statement.

The decision came after one of the agency's officials, who was inspecting export shipments in the city of Uruapan, "received a threatening call on his official cell phone," said the Mexican agency that oversees agricultural exports.

This weekend, federal and state authorities, along with US officials in Michoacan were in talks with police to reinforce security measures, according to the government. 

Michoacan is the world's largest avocado producer, with 85 percent of its crop exported to the United States. 

But it is also one of the Mexican states hardest hit by violence linked to organized crime, which also targets avocado producers, who face theft, assault and extortion. 

In 2019, the United States warned it was considering suspending purchases of Mexican avocados over the security situation in the country.

The suspension came on the eve of the US National Football League championship game, a key marketing opportunity for Mexican avocado producers hoping to cement guacamole as a Super Bowl staple. 

Some 140,000 tons of avocados will be exported to the United States this February, according to Bedolla.

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