Hass Avocados. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is accepting comments through Dec. 27 on a proposed rule that would allow the importation of Hass avocados from Colombia into the continental U.S. As a condition of entry, such avocados would have to be produced in accordance with a systems approach that includes the following requirements.

- the avocados are grown by places of production registered with the national plant protection organization of Colombia and determined to be free from three specific pests

- the avocados are packed for export in pest-exclusionary packinghouses registered with the NPPO of Colombia

- the avocados are imported in commercial consignments only

- grove sanitation, monitoring, and pest control practices

- the avocados are accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that they have been produced in accordance with the proposed requirements

APHIS states that Colombia is expected to export 10,000 metric tons of Hass avocados to the U.S. each year and that 20 percent of this amount would displace imports from other countries.

Orchids. APHIS is accepting comments through Dec. 27 on a proposed rule that would add orchid plants of the genus Dendrobium from Taiwan to the list of plants that may be imported into the U.S. in an approved growing medium, subject to the following requirements.

- the plants are grown in accordance with written agreements between APHIS and the NPPO of Taiwan and between the NPPO and the grower

- the plants are rooted and grown for a specified period in a greenhouse that meets certain requirements for pest exclusion and is used only for plants being grown in compliance with 7 CFR 319.37-8(e)

- the parent plants are produced from seed germinated in the production greenhouse or from mother plants that are grown and monitored for a specified period prior to export of the descendant plants

- restrictions on the sources of water that may be used on the plants, the height of the benches on which the plants must be grown, and the conditions under which the plants must be stored and packaged

- the plants are inspected in the greenhouse and found free of evidence of plant pests no more than 30 days prior to exportation

- a phytosanitary certificate issued by the Taiwan NPPO declaring that the above conditions have been met accompanies the plants at the time of importation

APHIS states that this rule would enable Taiwanese exporters to provide higher-value, mature Dendrobium spp. plants directly to wholesalers and retailers but that such a scenario is considered unlikely given the technical challenges and marketing costs incurred when shipping finished plants in pots. It is more likely that Taiwan will continue to export immature Dendrobium spp. plants as bare root plants or in approved growing media to U.S. nurseries to grow and sell as finished plants. APHIS states that because Dendrobium spp. makes up such an insignificant share of Taiwan’s orchid exports worldwide and the fact that Phalaenopsis and Oncidium spp. orchids are already being imported from Taiwan in approved growing media, the proposed rule is not expected to significantly change the volume or value of orchids imported into the continental U.S. from Taiwan.

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