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Alyn Kiel        (301) 734-5222
Lyndsay Cole (970) 494-7410

USDA Allows Interstate Movement of Citrus Nursery Stock from Certain Quarantine Areas

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2011--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced an interim rule that allows the interstate movement of regulated nursery stock, under certain conditions, from areas quarantined for citrus canker, citrus greening and/or the Asian citrus psyllid to any area within the United States. Previously, this interstate movement had been either prohibited or restricted depending on the area of quarantine.

"This rule will provide much needed economic relief for citrus-producing nursery growers in the quarantine areas," said APHIS administrator Gregory Parham. "Most of these nurseries are small businesses that have been impacted by the previous quarantine measures, which were necessary in the short term to limit the spread of these devastating citrus diseases. To allow this new movement out of the quarantine areas, the rule establishes rigorous, science-based safeguarding measures that will protect all citrus-producing states."

With the interim rule, regulated nursery stock accompanied by a certificate can move interstate from areas quarantined for citrus canker, citrus greening and/or the Asian citrus psyllid to any area within the United States. The interim rule also revises the regulations regarding the movement of regulated nursery stock under a limited permit from an area quarantined for the Asian citrus psyllid but not for citrus greening. The rule defines citrus nursery stock as all plants for planting in the family Rutaceae, which includes citrus and citrus relatives.

Certificates and limited permits will only be issued for shipments of plants originating from facilities that operate under a compliance agreement with APHIS, meet strict standards for the production of disease-free plant material and employ safeguards during packing and movement. The specific protocols for these agreements are outlined in a document that is available on APHIS' website at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/
. APHIS developed the protocols after conducting a comprehensive risk management analysis that examined citrus nursery stock as a pathway for the introduction of citrus canker, citrus greening and the Asian citrus psyllid from areas that are quarantined for any of these pests into any area of the United States. The protocols include labeling, which facilitates traceability; recordkeeping; inspection; horticultural and sanitation practices; access to the facility by inspectors; surveillance; treatments; and facility requirements to safeguard nursery stock from citrus canker, citrus greening and Asian citrus psyllid.

The movement of citrus nursery stock remains restricted in areas quarantined for sweet orange scab and citrus black spot. Nursery stock from areas quarantined for sweet orange scab may move to non-citrus producing states under certain conditions. The entire states of Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are quarantined for sweet orange scab. The interstate movement of citrus nursery stock from areas quarantined for citrus black spot is prohibited. Portions of two Florida counties are quarantined for citrus black spot.

Citrus canker is a bacterial disease of citrus that causes premature leaf and fruit drop. The main symptoms are lesions on the leaves, stems and fruit of citrus trees. While not harmful to humans, the disease affects the health and marketability of infected fruit. Citrus canker causes the citrus tree to continually decline in health and fruit production until the tree produces no fruit at all. It affects all types of citrus and is highly contagious. There is no known cure for citrus canker.

Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing, is one of the most devastating diseases of citrus worldwide. While it does not pose a human health risk, it greatly reduces fruit production and will cause economic losses. Once infected, there is no known cure for a tree with citrus greening. A gnat-sized insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, spreads the bacterium that causes citrus greening as it feeds. The pest's feeding activity can also seriously damage the citrus plants directly, especially new shoots.

To learn more about APHIS' efforts to protect U.S. citrus, please visit our website at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/

This action is published in today's April 27 Federal Register and becomes effective upon publication.

Consideration will be given to comments received on or before June 27. Send a copy of your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2010-0048, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2010-0048. If you wish to submit a comment using the Internet go to the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2010-0048 to submit or view comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.

Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov website and may also be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.


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