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Jun 10, 2020
USDA proposes changes in handling requirements for Florida tomatoes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing changes to the handling requirements under the federal marketing order for tomatoes grown in Florida. The Florida Tomato Committee recommended the changes to bring previously exempt Roma tomatoes under the marketing order’s handling regulations.

The committee also recommended developing exemption language for greenhouse and hydroponic tomatoes by establishing a new definition for “controlled environment.” Changes to pack and container requirements are also proposed to reflect current industry practices.

The proposed rule for this action was published in the Federal Register June 9, 2020. Written comments are due by July 9, 2020.

Submit formal written comments concerning the proposed change here. They may also mailed to Docket Clerk, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237 or faxed to (202) 720-8938.

All comments to this proposed rule submitted by the deadline will be made available for public review and will be considered before a final rule is published.

APHIS conducts survey

APHIS is working with state departments of agriculture and producers to conduct a tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) survey of U.S commercial greenhouses that produce tomatoes. APHIS and cooperators are also putting in place official control measures to further safeguard U.S. agriculture against this virus. This decision follows the confirmation of several isolated detections of ToBRFV in U.S. commercial greenhouses last winter.

ToBRFV can cause severe fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers. It is easily spread by contaminated tools and hands, and through plant-to-plant contact. Symptoms include mosaic patterns on plant leaves or fruit with brown or yellow spots.

APHIS urges U.S. tomato, eggplant, and pepper producers, the nursery transplant industry and the seed industry to follow recommended sanitation practices to safeguard against the introduction of this virus into commercial greenhouses and report any signs of symptoms to their state plant regulatory official.

For more information about ToBRFV, visit the APHIS website.

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