Yummy avocados. So delicious...so contentious...and at times...so expensive. Why have prices in the U.S., particularly California, been so high? And why have they dropped? Weather and a bad crop? Or are the causes often more insidious? A one act play
sums up one perspective on the situation.
Seriously, are California avocado growers trying to limit the competition in the guise of pest control?
Since 1914, avocados from Mexico (currently the world's #1 avocado producer) have been banned in the U.S. due to claims over pest infestation. In 1994, NAFTA opened the US to Mexican avocados, but avocado growers in California vehemently fought against the measure, claiming Mexican avocados would bring pests into the country.
Are pests a legitimate issue? The answer varies on the source. While some sources
claim legitimate pest issues exist, other sources
claim the pest issue is unfounded.
While hard evidence of the pest threat is still being sought, California avocado growers, through groups like the California Avocado Commission, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying activity and lawsuits, in an effort to stop the importation of Mexican avocados. A report by the CATO institute provides a detailed breakdown and history of the avocado wars
, claiming Californian avocado growers are abusing inspection standards to protect their share of the industry.
The battle continues. In 2007, more than two decades after NAFTA, and after much stalling, Mexican trucks are finally allowed to bring Mexican avocados into California and Florida.
The California Avocado Commission decides to file suit.
Even more recently, Mexico sues
the California Avocado Commission for "spreading falsehoods" about Mexican avocados.