Import Requirements for Plant Pests and Biocontrol Agents Revised

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule that eases restrictions on the importation of certain types of plant pests; establishes criteria for the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of biological control organisms; and revises the regulations regarding the importation and interstate movement of soil. This rule will be effective as of Aug. 9.

With respect to the regulation of plant pests, this rule (1) clarifies the risk-based criteria APHIS uses to determine if an organism is a plant pest and to evaluate and issue permits, (2) revises the definition of a plant pest to include organisms of unknown risk if they are similar to known plant pests, (3) allows the use of general web-based permits for the importation and interstate movement into the continental U.S. of certain low-risk pests, and (4) puts in place a notice-based process to establish and maintain a list of pests exempted from standard permit requirements.

With respect to the regulation of biological control organisms, the rule (1) establishes criteria regarding the movement and release of certain biological control agents in the continental U.S. and (2) establishes exemptions for certain biological control organisms similar to those for widely prevalent, low-risk plant pests. 

Finally, the rule more appropriately reflects the risk from soil that accompanies a plant pest by including soil as an associated article, updating the definition of soil, and clarifying what is not considered soil.

Sugar Tariff-Rate Quotas for FY 2020 Announced

The Department of Agriculture has established the amounts of raw cane sugar and certain sugars, syrups, and molasses (collectively referred to as refined sugar) that may be imported under the lower tier of duties provided by the tariff-rate quotas for these products during fiscal year 2020 (Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020). Specifically, aggregate quantities of up to 1,117,195 metric tons raw value of raw cane sugar (unchanged from FY 2019) and 192,000 MTRV of sugars, syrups, and molasses (also unchanged) may be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption under these TRQs during this period.

Of the latter quantity, 171,656 MTRV (unchanged) is reserved for the importation of specialty sugars, and this TRQ will be opened in five tranches. The first, totaling 1,656 MTRV, will open Oct. 1, and all specialty sugars will be eligible for entry. The additional tranches will open Oct. 9 (50,000 MTRV), Jan. 22 (55,000 MTRV), April 15 (35,000 MTRV), and July 15 (35,000 MTRV) and will each will be reserved for organic sugar and other specialty sugars not currently produced commercially in the U.S. or reasonably available from domestic sources.

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