On September 14, 2018, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced a final rule to revise and reorganize its regulations pertaining to the importation of fruits and vegetables, otherwise known as its Q-56 regulations. The purpose of the final rule is to simplify and expedite the APHIS regulatory process for approving new imports, while also maintaining the robust scientific process by which APHIS evaluates the risk associated with those imports.
The final rule expands the list of general phytosanitary measures, also referred to as performance standards, which may be used to approve the importation or interstate movement of fruits and vegetables. Expanding the use of the notice-based process allows APHIS to be more responsive to evolving pest situations in both the United States and exporting countries while decreasing the time it takes to approve fruits and vegetables that can be safely imported into the United States.
The changes in the rule do not alter which fruits and vegetables are currently eligible for importation or how the risks associated with those commodities are evaluated or mitigated. This rule only makes more timely the approval of fruits and vegetables that are safe for importation into the United States.
On October 29, 2008, APHIS launched a new searchable online database, known as the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database. FAVIR allows customers to search, by commodity or country, for authorized fruits and vegetables and their requirements for importation into the United States.
APHIS developed the FAVIR database in response to the June 2007 final rule, also known as Quarantine 56, or the Q56 revision, that established a streamlined approach for the importation of certain fruits and vegetables without specific prior rulemaking.
On September 14, 2018, APHIS expanded the notice-based process to include all fruits and vegetables. Commodities approved under the Q56 revision will not be reflected in the Code of Federal Regulations, but rather in the FAVIR online database.