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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Lacey Act Implementation Plan; Definitions for Exempt and Regulated Articles

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today published a final rule indicating we are adopting, without change, an interim final rule that established definitions for the terms “common cultivar” and “common food crop” found in the 2008 Amendment of the Lacey Act.

This is necessary because the Lacey Act allows limited exceptions from its provisions for three categories of plants:  (1) Common cultivars and common food crops; (2) scientific specimens; and (3) plants that are to remain planted or to be planted or replanted (i.e., nursery stock).  However, the Act does not define the terms “common cultivar” and “common food crop.”  Instead, the USDA and the U.S. Department of the Interior have been given authority to define these terms.  Establishing definitions is necessary for compliance and enforcement purposes.

APHIS’ interim final rule, developed to clarify definitions for exempt and regulated Articles under the Lacey Act, also requested public comment on definitions of two additional terms: “commercial scale” and “tree.”  In this final rule we are also establishing definitions for the terms “commercial scale” and “tree,” to clarify which plants and plant products are subject to the provisions of the Lacey Act.

APHIS proposed to define “commercial scale” as “production, in individual products or markets, that is typical of commercial activity, regardless of the production methods or amount of production of a particular facility, or the purpose of an individual shipment.” APHIS proposed to define “tree” as “a woody perennial plant that has a well-defined stem or stems and a continuous cambium, and that exhibits true secondary growth.”

The Lacey Act was first enacted in 1900 and is the oldest wildlife protection statute.  It combats the trade of illegally harvested plants, including timber, in an effort to protect invaluable forests and ecosystems worldwide.  The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 amended the Lacey Act by expanding its protections to a broader range of plants and plant products.

Under the Lacey Act, APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine Program:

  • Administers the requirements that mandate that importers declare the species, country of harvest and other relevant information about a plant or plant product;
  • Cooperates with other Federal partners in their efforts to combat illegal logging; and,
  • Initiates Federal Register implementing actions.

For additional information about the Lacey Act Program, please visit

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