The leading global producer of avocados has resumed its inspection program in Mexico and exports to the U.S. after a temporary ban was lifted.
The resolution, announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), came just seven days after a U.S. plant safety inspector received a threatening message on his official cellphone.
"The safety of USDA employees simply doing their jobs is of paramount importance. USDA is appreciative of the positive, collaborative relationship between the United States and Mexico that made resolution of this issue possible in a timely manner," APHIS said in a statement.
According to APHIS, "additional measures that enhance safety for APHIS’ inspectors working in the field" have been made in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico’s Regional Security Officer, Mexico’s national plant protection organization (SENASICA), and the Association of Avocado Producers and Packers Exporters of Mexico (APEAM).
Despite the demand for imported avocados, the U.S. government first announced the ban earlier this month following the safety incident in Michoacán -- the only state with U.S. market access -- Mexico’s Agriculture Department reported to The Associated Press.
"U.S. health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacán, received a threatening message on his official cellphone," the department wrote.
Michoacán has been the site of drug cartel turf battles where avocado growers have experienced extortion, the AP reported.
Despite challenges with the supply chain and harvest due to COVID-19, the Office of Agriculture Affairs for Mexico reported that production and exports from Michoacán were forecast to grow this year.
"Avocados are a significant agricultural product for Mexico, and one of the primary beneficiaries of the U.S.," the department said in its annual report. "Mexico agricultural trade under the North American Free Trade Agreement (now United States- Mexico- Canada Agreement), with Mexican avocado trade values increasing over 455 percent since its implementation."
The Office of Agriculture Affairs for Mexico did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Over the past few decades, domestic production of avocados has dropped more than 45%, according to the Avocado Institute of Mexico. The organization reported that avocado consumption in the U.S. skyrocketed from 1.5 pounds to 7.5 pounds from 1998 to 2017.
An earlier version of this story was originally published on Feb. 15, 2022.