On July 9, 2018, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register two proposed rules that would ease the burden or clarify the requirements for Lacey Act (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) declarations. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 amended the Lacey Act to provide, among other things, that importers submit a declaration at the time of importation for certain plants and plant products. The declaration requirement of the Lacey Act became effective on December 15, 2008, and enforcement of that requirement is being phased in. In the first notice of proposed rulemaking [Docket No. APHIS-2013-0055], APHIS is proposing to establish an exception to the declaration requirement for products containing a minimal amount of plant materials. This action would relieve the burden on importers while continuing to ensure that the declaration requirement fulfills the purposes of the Lacey Act. APHIS is proposing to amend the definition in the regulations to add the exclusions for common cultivars, common food crops, scientific specimens used only for laboratory or field research, and any plant that is to remain planted or to be planted or replanted, and also to add the exceptions to the application of those exclusions so that the proposed definition conforms with the statutory definition. APHIS is also proposing that all Lacey Act declarations be submitted within 3 business days of importation.

In the second notice of proposed rulemaking [Docket No. APHIS-2018-0017], APHIS is soliciting public comment on regulatory options that could address certain issues that have arisen with the implementation of the declaration requirement for composite plant materials. This exception would cover composite plant materials that are not otherwise considered de minimis quantities under the first regulatory option. Many composite plant materials are currently manufactured in a manner that makes identification of the genus, species, and country of harvest of all of the plant content difficult and perhaps expensive. While provisions in the Lacey Act’s declaration requirement address how to complete a declaration in situations in which the species or country of harvest of plant material used in an imported product varies (16 U.S.C. 3372(f)(2)(A) and (B)), these provisions may not relieve the difficulties and expense faced by importers of some composite plant materials.

APHIS will consider all comments that it receives on or before September 7, 2018.