On June 26, 2017, APHIS sought stakeholder feedback on the draft framework for the pilot program. We received feedback from five stakeholders within the 30-day comment period. In response, we clarified language in the framework regarding irrigation requirements, screen/physical barrier maintenance, and record keeping and retention. We also instructed certified inspectors to record information on pathogen testing procedures and processes at each pilot facility during inspection visits per stakeholder suggestions.
APHIS would like to clarify that material originating from these facilities is low risk and has been entering the United States in high volumes for many years. Inspection frequency at the plant inspection stations will not change under this pilot; all shipments will be inspected according to standard protocols. We will gather data during the six month pilot, including any pest interceptions on cuttings from participating facilities. These facilities do not receive any advantage from participating in the pilot, and, if the pilot is successful, any interested facility may apply to join a greenhouse certification program in future years.
We would like to thank stakeholders for their feedback. For additional information, please send an email to Kelsey Branch, APHIS Foreign Inspection and Certification Coordinator, at Kelsey.Branch@aphis.usda.gov.