Proposal for More Flexibility in Fruit and Vegetable Imports Gets More Time for Comment
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has reopened again, through March 10, the public comment period on a proposed rule that would provide for the approval of all new fruits and vegetables for importation into the United States using a notice-based process. This rule would also remove the region- or commodity-specific phytosanitary requirements currently found in USDA’s regulations. Likewise, APHIS has proposed an equivalent revision of the regulatory performance standard governing the interstate movements of fruits and vegetables from Hawaii and the U.S. territories (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the removal of commodity-specific phytosanitary requirements from those regulations.
APHIS states that this proposed rule would allow for the approval of requests to authorize the importation or interstate movement of new fruits and vegetables in a manner that enables a more flexible and responsive regulatory approach to evolving pest situations in both the United States and exporting countries. The rule would not, however, alter the science-based process in which the risk associated with importation or interstate movement of a given fruit or vegetable is evaluated or the manner in which such risks are mitigated.