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USDA Modernizes Plant Pest Regulations, Improves Customer Service

Washington, D.C., June 21, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published a final rule to revise the regulations in Title 7 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 330 that govern the movement of plant pests. The final rule aligns plant pest regulations with current APHIS policies, removes obsolete requirements, streamlines the permit process for low risk organisms, and updates requirements for the import of foreign soil. These changes make the permitting process faster and simpler for certain low-risk pests and pathogens while allowing us to focus our resources regulating high-risk organisms.

The Plant Protection Act of 2000 clarified APHIS’ authority to regulate the movement of plant pests and gave the Agency explicit authority to regulate biological control organisms that could act as plant pests and associated articles that could harbor a plant pest or noxious weeds. Through this authority, APHIS facilitates the import and interstate movement of live insects, microorganisms and weeds that are plant pests and/or may be potential biological control organisms via permits that prescribe safeguards to prevent harm to U.S. agricultural and environmental resources.

Customers seeking these permits include academic, industry, and government researchers who may use plant pests for taxonomic studies of microorganisms; diagnostics; product development; isolation of novel compounds from microbes for use in pharmaceuticals (i.e., antibiotics, metabolites, enzymes, and natural products for human use) or as a compound for plant protection or plant growth enhancement; biological control; chemical analysis; or laboratory and field research (i.e., plant pest control and resistance trials). Commercial businesses seeking permits include zoos, biologically-based pest control companies, butterfly release enterprises, live pet food (invertebrates) retailers, and specialty item stores that sell products for human consumption.

Over time, APHIS has developed policies and procedures that expedite the permitting process for certain plant pests that are widely prevalent in the United States. This final rule codifies those policies and procedures. It also streamlines the permit process or removes permit requirements for other low-risk organisms moving interstate within the United States.

The rule makes permit requirements clearer and more transparent for customers and stakeholders. It will also make the permitting process faster and simpler for certain low risk pests and pathogens. The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 and will be effective on Friday August 9, 2019.

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