In March 2021, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC – an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding agency) released the second of its two-volume report (first volume) on the impact of non-harmonized policies on pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs) on international agricultural trade. The USITC reports document the impacts of missing and low pesticide MRLs, specifically on farmers and exporters.
The USDA partners at FAS have put together a summary of Key Points from the first volume report (available here). The summary highlights the importance of aligned standards to facilitate the access of tools and technologies needed to feed a growing population and safeguard plant health.
The summary also notes two case studies in the USITC report, where farmers have faced challenges from missing or low MRLs.
Recent regulatory changes in Kenya’s main export market severely limited the
number of pesticides available to Kenyan French bean farmers, despite the presence of internationally agreed upon MRLs for some of these products. These pesticides are essential to control endemic pests. Kenyan farmer output and profits fell in response to these regulatory changes. Average annual prices of French beans have declined, even though farmers complied with other quality, environmental, social, health, and safety standards.
In Peru, some growers report that they must choose to either segregate their crops by export market or produce their entire crop to suit the importing market with the lowest MRL, resulting in substantial crop losses and reduced exports. Segregating crops by market adds complications because shipments sent to the wrong destination may be rejected, affecting the supplier’s reputation among importers and retailers.
The USITC Volume 1 report is available in French and Spanish on the AFSI Resources page.