On March 2, 2020, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. APHIS–2013–0055] that amends the regulations implementing the Lacey Act (as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008) 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.

Section 3 of the Lacey Act makes it unlawful to import certain plants, including plant products, without an import declaration. The import declaration serves as a tool to collect information regarding the content of a shipment, which aids in combatting illegal trade in timber and timber products by ensuring importers provide required information. Information from the declaration is also used to monitor implementation of Lacey Act requirements. The declaration must contain the scientific name of the plant, value of the importation, quantity of the plant, and name of the country from which the plant was harvested. However, the Act does not explicitly address whether the declaration requirement is intended to apply to imported products that contain minimal plant material.

The final rule establishes limited exceptions to the declaration requirement for entries of products containing minimal plant material. This action relieves the burden on importers while ensuring that the declaration requirement continues to fulfill the purposes of the Lacey Act. The final rule also establishes a new section to specify the conditions under which a plant import declaration must be filed and what information it must include. These conditions reflect the provisions of the Act and provide additional context for the exceptions.

APHIS is adopting a threshold of no more than 5 percent of the total weight of the individual product unit, provided that the total weight of the plant material in an entry of products in the same 10-digit HTSUS provision does not exceed 2.9 kilograms.

The amendments are effective April 1, 2020.