Minding your PPQs – APHIS Advice

Let’s start with a very quick acronym review. We’re talking about “APHIS” which stands for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a branch of the USDA (United States Agricultural Department).

APHIS covers a wide range issues on importing and exporting agricultural material, plus domestic pest control. You might reach out them to get a permit to import a tropical timber, to find out about wood packaging policies or to schedule an export inspection for your lumber. But most wood importers associate them first and foremost with Lacey and the PPQ 505.

PPQ stands for “Plant Protection and Quarantine” and there are a whole lot of forms in that collection. Here are just a few of the fine titles available:

  • PPQ 305 Insect Collection Worksheet for Geneotype Analysis
  • PPQ 525A Application for Permit to Receive Soil
  • PPQ 526 Application for Permit to Move Live Plant Pests or Noxious Weed
  • PPQ 621 Application for Protected Plant Permit to Engage in the Business of Importing, Exporting or Re-exporting Terrestrial Plants

That last one is my favorite because it shows the government is thinking ahead: they’ve specified “terrestrial plants.” Clearly there will be a new form when we start importing plants from other planets.

Again the PPQ form that most everyone knows is number 505: Plant and Plant Product Declaration Form often called The Lacey Declaration. Importers need to complete this with every applicable entry, listing out all relevant species and their countries of harvest.

I remind people of this because APHIS has recently advised that they are going to start issuing letters of non-compliance for Lacey Act Declaration errors:

Effective October 1, 2018, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will notify importers and customs brokers, in most cases by email, when they submit Lacey Act declarations that contain errors. Common errors include: misidentifying the species of imported wood or wood products, listing unlikely country and plant species pairs, submitting incomplete declarations, and/or failing to file a declaration in a timely manner.

Importers who receive a letter of non-compliance do not need to take action to correct the declaration in question, but they should take steps to correct future declarations. Repeated failures to correct errors may result in APHIS referring future violations for investigation or potential enforcement action.

So it is clearly (past) time to get your details in order. To help with that, next week we’ll look at some aspects of the PPQ entries.

Elizabeth Baldwin is Environmental Compliance Officer for Metropolitan Hardwood Floors. In her 25 plus year career in the wood industry has visited over 70 countries and hundreds of facilities of all sizes and types. She describes herself as a “jack of all wood trades.” Familiar with jungles of all sorts–having camped out along the Amazon and walked the halls of Congress–she blogs for the NWFA on both environmental and regulatory issues for educational and informational purposes only. Her blog is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking legal advice on compliance with CARB, TSCA, the U.S. Lacey Act or any other law, regulation, or compliance requirement/claim should consult with the regulatory agency directly and/or a qualified legal professional.

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