APHIS Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule that Revises Requirements for Importation and Interstate Movement of Plant Pests, Biocontrol Agents, and Soil

APHIS Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule that Revises Requirements for Importation and Interstate Movement of Plant Pests, Biocontrol Agents, and Soil

APHIS proposes to revise the regulations in 7 CFR part 330 that govern the movement into and within the United States of plant pests, biological control agents, and soil, and is soliciting public comments until March 20, 2017. Specifically, this action will align plant pest regulations with current APHIS policies, remove obsolete requirements, streamline the permit process for low risk organisms, and update requirements for the import of foreign soil.

Regarding the regulation of plant pests, this proposed rule would: 

  • Clarify the risk-based criteria APHIS uses to determine if an organism is a plant pest and to evaluate and issue permits.
  • Revise the definition of a plant pest to include organisms of unknown risk if those organisms are similar to known plant pests.
  • Allow the use of general web-based permits for importation and interstate movement into the continental United States of certain low risk pests. 
  • Put in place a notice-based process to establish and maintain a list of pests exempted from standard permit requirements. The exempted list would include plant pests that are established throughout their geographical range in the United States; low risk; or commercially available and under purview of another Federal agency, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. 

As it relates to the regulation of biological control organisms, this proposed rule would: 

  • Establish criteria regarding the movement and release of certain biological control agents in the continental United States, and 
  • Establish exemptions for certain biological control organisms similar to what is being proposed for widely prevalent, low-risk plant pests. 

The proposed rule would also update the regulations to more appropriately reflect the risk from soil that accompanies a plant pest by:

  • Including soil as an “associated article” ( i.e., soil that accompanies a plant pest),  Updating the definition of soil, and
  • Clarifying what is not considered soil.

The proposed rule will be available in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017. Interested stakeholders can review the proposed rule and submit comments beginning January 19, 2017. APHIS will carefully review and consider all comments received before making a decision regarding the importation and interstate movement of plant pests, biocontrol agents, and soil.

To review the proposed rule or submit comments, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2008-0076

Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery:  Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0076, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

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