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Further Restructuring of Regulations on Imports of Plants for Planting Considered

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has reopened through Jan. 30 the period for public comments on a proposal to restructure its regulations governing the importation of plants for planting. APHIS has said that this proposed rule would not make any major changes to the restrictions that currently apply to such imports but instead would make those restrictions easier for readers to find and less cumbersome for APHIS to change. Highlights of the proposal can be found here.

Among other things, APHIS proposed to establish in the regulations a framework for the development of integrated pest risk management measures. APHIS’ proposal is based on the North American Plant Protection Organization's Regional Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 24, which addresses trade in plants for planting, but is also consistent with the International Plant Protection Convention's International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 36, which addresses the same topic. However, several commenters said the proposed measures should be based on ISPM No. 36 rather than RSMP No. 24, noting that these two standards differ significantly and that the framework proposed was not consistent with ISPM No. 36.

One element of RSPM No. 24 included in the proposed framework was a requirement that persons trading in plants for planting intended for export without growing the plants (referred to as plant brokers) be approved by the national plant protection organization of the exporting country. In addition, APHIS proposed to require plant brokers to ensure the traceability of export consignments to an approved place of production or production site and to maintain the phytosanitary status of the plants (i.e., their freedom from exposure to the quarantine pests addressed by the integrated pest risk management measures) in a manner equivalent to an approved place of production from purchase, storage and transportation to the export destination. However, some commenters indicated that the proposed requirement for approval of plant brokers would be unworkable and that there could be other means for ensuring that plants for planting intended for export retain their phytosanitary status after leaving the place of production.

APHIS has therefore reopened the comment period on this proposed rule to receive input on possible changes based on the comments received. The agency is especially interested in (a) the differences between ISPM No. 36 and RSPM No. 24 and reasons to prefer one over the other as a basis for integrated pest management measures, and (b) how to address the risk posed when plant brokers purchase and move plants for planting after they leave their place of production and before they are exported to the United States.

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