Trade Compliance

GHY discusses changes to international trade regulations and explores cutting-edge compliance strategies.

Lacey Act Import Declaration Review

Posted August 26, 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accepting comments through October 20 on the proposed extension of an information collection required by the Lacey Act for the importation of certain plants and plant products.

The law was originally enacted 114 years ago aiming to preserve wild game and birds (click here for a rather shocking description of hunting practices at the time which first encouraged its passage), making it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another. Since that time Laceypidgeonhowever the legislation has morphed into a much broader statute that, as of 2008, makes it unlawful to import certain plants and plant products into the United States without an import declaration, which must contain (among other things) the scientific name of the plant, the value of the importation, the quantity of the plant and the name of the country in which the plant was harvested.

The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) – the country’s largest trade and industry association – has previously petitioned the U.S. Congress in opposition to this legislation characterizing the compliance burden associated with the required import declaration as an onerous and completely needless trade barrier. “Each [declaration] represents an unnecessary, incremental direct cost to Canadian exporters,” the CME has stated.  “The direct costs pale in comparison to the in-house, corporate cost of completing, reconciling, matching and storing the required declaration information to the shipment destined to the United States.”

In a 2012 submission to the cross border Regulatory Cooperation Council protesting the “logistical nightmare the import declaration presents” the association could not help but point to the absurdity of the fact that the 2008 amendment broadening the scope of the Lacey Act’s coverage was intended to protect fragile rain forests, but in actuality, 90% of all declarations submitted to APHIS are filed by Canadian manufacturers. Obviously this was “hardly a concern when it comes to Canadian forestry management,” the filing asserted.