On September 9, 2014 the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a proposed rule to amend its procedures for setting fruit and vegetable import regulations. APHIS is proposing to expand the use of a notice-based process for the approval of all new fruit and vegetable imports into the United States and for the interstate movement of fruits and vegetables from Hawaii and the U.S. territories. The proposed rule would also expand the list of general phytosanitary measures, also referred to as performance standards, which could be used to approve the importation or interstate movement of fruits and vegetables.
Under the proposed notice-based process, amendments to the regulations codified in 7 CFR 318.13 and 319.56 would no longer be needed each time APHIS approved a new fruit or vegetable import. Instead, the approval of fruit and vegetable imports would be accomplished via the publication of notices in the Federal Register. APHIS claims that the proposed changes will allow it to be more responsive to evolving pest situations both in the United States and in exporting countries while decreasing the time it takes to approve fruits and vegetables that can be safely imported into the United States.
APHIS estimates that expanded use of the notice-based process would significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to approve fruits and vegetables for import from 18 to 24 months to 5 to 12 months, on average. The proposed rule would also establish a procedure under which APHIS would be able to order emergency import bans and restrict the importation of specified goods through a Federal Register notice. The commodity clearance process at ports of entry would not be altered by the proposed changes.
There is a 60-day comment period for this proposed rule. Stakeholders must therefore make submissions by November 10, 2014.