Plant Imports to be Streamlined. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is considering a change to a standardized set of pest risk mitigations that would make the process for approving imports of plants in approved growing media simpler and more efficient. APHIS states that while it currently prepares unique EAs for each request for such imports, the pest mitigation measures it proposes for most requests are very similar. APHIS has therefore prepared a draft programmatic EA that would reduce the need for repetitive documentation of comparable risks for the majority of the import requests it receives. Comments on this draft are due by May 10.
Under APHIS’ preferred alternative in the draft EA, requests for the importation would be analyzed in a pest risk analysis and compared to the current systems approach in the USDA Plants for Planting Manual. This process would streamline import approvals by relying on the known combination of pest mitigation measures to provide overlapping or sequential safeguards to manage a wide range of pests. While the systems approach and pest surveillance practices would apply to all importations, the detection of quarantine pests would preclude further importation of the affected plant from the affected country until revised phytosanitary practices are shown to be effective.
Poultry from Honduras. The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective May 6, will add Honduras to the list of countries eligible to export poultry products to the U.S.
FSIS states that under this final rule Honduras will be permitted to export to the U.S. only raw poultry products, such as whole carcasses produced in certified Honduran establishments. However, Honduras is unable to ship raw poultry product to the U.S. at this time it is not recognized by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as being free of Newcastle disease.
FSIS adds that Honduras would need to request an equivalence determination and submit additional information records before FSIS would allow Honduras to export heat-treated poultry products, such as cooked or canned product, to the U.S.