On January 28, 2019, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will resume an offshore greenhouse certification pilot program at the Miami and Atlanta plant inspection stations. This pilot will run for approximately four months and will help APHIS and the U.S. nursery industry determine whether greenhouse certification can effectively mitigate pest and disease risks associated with plant cuttings produced in offshore facilities. APHIS and the nursery industry have been working together to develop and implement this pilot program for several years.
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 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 Michael Petrillo, Offshore Certification Specialist, at Michael.D.Petrillo@usda.gov.