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Melissa O'Dell (301) 734-5222
Jim Brownlee (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2007--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is delaying until June 2, the implementation date for new requirements that must be met in order to import cut flowers that are hosts of chrysanthemum white rust from countries where the disease is known to occur.

The delay will allow affected groups additional time needed to make necessary preparations in order to comply with the new inspection and certification procedures that will be instituted as a result of this final rule. During the delay, APHIS will continue to apply existing administrative restrictions on cut flowers from countries where chrysanthemum white rust is known to occur.

As of June 2, flowers eligible for importation into the United States, must be grown in a registered production site and accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate or equivalent documentation issued by the national plant protection organization of the country of origin or its designee. The certificate must also contain an additional declaration stating that the place of production as well as the shipment have been inspected and found free of chrysanthemum white rust. APHIS is also requiring box labels and other documents accompanying shipments of cut flowers be marked with the identity of the registered production site. In addition, APHIS-authorized inspectors must be allowed access to production sites and other areas necessary to monitor the chrysanthemum white rust-free status of the site. Cut flowers that do not meet these conditions will be refused entry into the United States.

Chrysanthemum white rust is a serious disease of chrysanthemums caused by the fungus, Puccinia horiana. Plants for propagation as well cut flowers are considered the primary pathway for the introduction of chrysanthemum white rust.

Notice of this action was published in the May 11 in the Federal Register.

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