YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) -- The federal government has announced that U.S. cherry growers can now export their products to western Australia after 10 years of negotiations.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday that the agreement marks the first U.S. fresh fruit to gain access to that market.
U.S. cherries from California, Washington and Oregon have already been exported to Australia's eastern states, but western Australia maintains its own regulations and had barred them. The new agreement enabled the first cherry shipment to western Australia last month.
The USDA says that U.S. cherry growers shipped $1.4 million in cherries to eastern Australia when the market first opened in 1999. That grew to $15.6 million in 2009, and experts say that could dramatically increase with exports to western Australia as well.