If the Lacey Act is interpreted to include all plant products, it would have an unnecessary regulatory burden on importers, said the trade group.
The act, which was originally adopted in 1990, is a wildlife protection statute. The act’s amendments are said to be designed to deter imports of timber and timber products produced from illegal logging.
However, because the amendments to the act apply to both plants and “products thereof”, its scope could be extended to include any plant, plant part, or plant product, except for those identified as ‘common cultivars’ or ‘common food crops’.
“AHPA respects and supports legislative and regulatory efforts to control international trade in illegally harvested timber,” said AHPA president Michael McGuffin.
“AHPA is concerned, however, that implementation of the Act’s new requirements for importation disclosures, if applied to all plant imports, will result in filing of a significant amount of unnecessary and largely redundant information for non-timber plants and products.”
The group requested that USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ensure the law is implemented in a way that respects the original scope and places minimal regulatory burden on importers of herbs and herbal products.
The compliance date established by the amended act is December 15, 2008, but APHIS has communicated its intention to implement the law in phases. As a result, no declarations are expected to be required before April 1, 2009.
The act would require importers of plants and plant products to file declarations containing:
· The scientific name of the plant (including the genus and species of the plant)
· The value of the importation
· The quantity, including the unit of measure, of the plant
· The name of the country from which the plant was taken
To view the Federal Register notice, click here.
To view AHPA’s comments, click here.