Increased trade in fresh fruits and vegetables provides U.S. consumers with a variety of benefits, including the possibility of improved nutrition with year-round availability of these products. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) establishes regulations on the fruit and vegetable imports to prevent the inadvertent introduction of harmful organisms and diseases (i.e., pests). Unlike the Food and Drug Administration sanitary regulations, which mainly address human health concerns, APHIS phytosanitary regulations mainly address plant and animal health, which is broadly understood to include risks to agricultural productivity, environmental services, and other natural resources. These regulations may include prohibitions on imports, treatment requirements, restrictions on the origins and destinations of the goods, increased testing requirements, and comprehensive field measures and growing conditions as defined in a “systems approach.” The World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures establishes a framework for establishing and applying trade restrictions based on these concerns and a dispute resolution mechanism for violations of that framework.
This data product provides information on phytosanitary regulations affecting U.S. imports of 42 fresh fruits and vegetables. From 2008 to 2012, ERS has annually published statistics on the countries eligible to ship these goods to the United States and the extent to which they represent the whole of world trade. In 2015, the agency revised the format and added additional information on the specific treatment requirements for 29 of the fruits and vegetables permitted into the United States, the rates at which goods are rejected during inspections (i.e., the risk rate), and the rates at which specific actions are taken during inspections.