AUSTRALIAN LYCHEE EXPORT OPERATIONAL WORK PLAN FOR USA (OWP)
The approval to export Australian Lychees into the continental United States with the exception of the State of Florida was announced in 2013. An Operational Work Plan (OWP) was developed jointly by the United States Dept of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of Australia.
This is a trial 3 year pilot program and during this period the OWP will be reviewed and modified each year as needed to reflect changes to the program operations.
2015/2016 lychee season will be year 1 of the 3 year trial. Only two marketing agents, The Avolution Group and Martin Walker Marketing have been selected and approved by ALGA to participate in Year 1of the trial. Both agents have nominated and submitted growers for Year 1 of the trial, selecting growers from North Qld, Central Qld, Bundaberg area and SE Queensland. Only 10 growers have been nominated but depending on their spraying regime and the chemicals being used, some of these growers may not be able to take part in the trial. The chemicals approved for the US are limited and many chemicals used for lychees in Australia have no MRL tolerance in the US. Because of this and also on recommendations from Dept of Agriculture, the trial needs to be contained and closely monitored and managed hence only a small number of growers were nominated. Once all the OWP protocols have been met, trialed and tested in the 1st year, then other growers are encouraged to register and apply for orchard and packhouse approval. The approval and registration process is being managed by ALGA with final approvals and audits being done by Dept of Agriculture and United States Dept of Agriculture.
There are a number of protocols apart from the major issue of approved chemicals, some of these are listed below and were also listed in the first update published on the ALGA website.
There are very strict OWP compliance requirements which growers/packhouses need to comply and commit to which include:
- Shed/packhouse hygiene
- Shed/packhouse audit and approval
- Identifying & monitoring pest and diseases of quarantine concern
- Appointing a registered pest monitor
- Traceability and up to date records and spray diaries
- US export fruit to be segregated from all other fruit
- Freshcare certification or similar Food Safety Standard certification
- Industry Quality Control standards must be followed
- To fully understand and comply with US chemical MRL’s
- To fully understand and comply with ALGA approved packaging for the US
- All export fruit must be sent to an approved irradiation treatment facility - Steritech
- Detailed label/sticker with grower identification, markings and irradiation symbol
- Growers will need to use an approved marketing agent
- Growers will need to register on the FDA-US Food & Drug Associations website
- As at 1st August 2015 there are new “Enhanced Air Cargo Examination” requirements to be implemented. Updates to these requirements will be advised. Note: These changes will not impact on the 2015/2016 or the 2016/2017 lychee seasons.
As previously advised in the first update, 2015/2016 season will be year 1 of the 3 year trial, there will mostly likely be a number of issues and challengers that ALGA will need to resolve to ensure all requirements in the OWP are met. Because of this, there will be a limited number of growers participating in year 1 and this will clear the way and open up the US export market to more growers in the following 2 years of the trial as well as future lychee seasons.
ALGA would appreciate it if growers not taking part in the 1st year trial were understanding to the fact that “we need to get this right for all growers”, if shipments are rejected in the US then the whole shipment will be destroyed, it cannot be sprayed or redirected to another destination and there will be no $ returns to the grower. This is definitely a risk for any lychee grower sending to the US, and the growers taking part in Year 1are forging the way for all growers.
It would be encouraging to know that all lychee growers support the ALGA in this endeavor as the more Australian lychees exported overseas, the better the returns will be for all lychee growers whether they export or only supply domestic markets.
Derek Foley – ALGA President
Jill Houser – ALGA Executive Officer/Secretary