Background

Imports of Sweet Potato, Dragon Fruit Under Consideration

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is considering separate requests to authorize the importation of (1) sweet potato from South Korea for consumption into the U.S. and its territories and (2) yellow dragon fruit from Colombia for consumption into the U.S.

APHIS has drafted pest risk assessments that lists the potential pests likely to remain on these commodities upon importation if no mitigation is applied. Comments on these assessments, including information that might lead APHIS to revise them before identifying pest mitigations and proceeding with the commodity import approval process, are due by Jan. 12.

Import Regulations for Horses May be Amended

APHIS is accepting comments through Jan. 28 on a proposed rule that would make the following amendments to its horse import regulations to allow more flexibility for permitted imports and better align with international standards.

- increase from 60 to 90 days the amount of time allowed for horses to be in a region affected with contagious equine metritis without testing upon their return to the U.S.

- require an import permit for horses transiting through CEM-affected regions

- add requirements for health certifications (e.g., requiring identifying information regarding the horse or horse test specimens, importer, and exporter to be listed on the certificate, and requiring that horses be accompanied by documentation that a pre-export exam occurred within 48 hours of export)

- remove the requirement that horses permanently imported from Canada undergo inspection at the port of entry

- require that horses transiting Central America or the West Indies comply with the same regulations that apply to horses directly imported from these regions, given the greater risk of equine diseases of concern from these areas

- add requirements for shipping containers, including disinfection requirements and measures to
ensure horses are transported safely

Imports of Sheep, Goats, and Other Ruminants

APHIS has issued a final rule that, effective Jan. 3, will (1) remove bovine spongiform encephalopathy-related import restrictions on sheep and goats and most of their products, (2) add import restrictions related to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies for certain wild, zoological, or other non-bovine ruminant species, and (3) establish a notice-based approach for recognizing regions as free of scrapie. APHIS states that these changes have the potential to expand the U.S. export market to the extent that they influence changes in trading partners’ import policies.

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