Minding your PPQs – and your SPPs…

I’m going start this post by quoting the relevant part of the Lacey Act that leads to the completion of PPQ 505:

…it shall be unlawful for any person to import any plant unless the person files upon importation a declaration that contains—

(A) the scientific name of any plant (including the genus and species of the plant) contained in the importation;

(B) a description of—

(i) the value of the importation; and
(ii) the quantity, including the unit of measure, of the plant; and

(C) the name of the country from which the plant was taken.

That’s why you have to complete the form, it’s right there in the Act.

Note that you have to talk about the origin of the plant, not the origin of the product. So if you have US Hickory flooring coming in from Vietnam, the origin of the Hickory is the United States while the origin of the product, the floor itself, is Vietnam.

Last week I listed out a couple of dozen possible Pecan/Hickory species that could be in a commercial sale of lumber. You’ll see that collection listed almost anywhere as Carya spp….except on a Lacey Declaration. If the USDA uses it, why can’t APHIS? Well, to understand why, let’s go back to the actual text of the law: “the scientific name of any plant (including the genus and species of the plant).”

That’s “genus and species.” Not “the commercial name” and not plural—that is the singular “any plant.” That implies individual listings. Since we know that species are usually intermixed commercially and it’s virtually impossible to get a single species of hickory in a container of lumber, what do you do if you can’t use “spp.?” You list all possible:

(A) in the case in which the species of plant used to produce the plant product that is the subject of the importation varies, and the species used to produce the plant product is unknown, contain the name of each species of plant that may have been used to produce the plant product;

Yup, the law states specifically there that if you don’t know which species it is, you have to list them all. Since we regularly intermix species commercially, most entries are going to quite reasonably reflect multiple species.

The same holds true for country of origin:

(B) in the case in which the species of plant used to produce the plant product that is the subject of the importation is commonly taken from more than one country, and the country from which the plant was taken and used to produce the plant product is unknown, contain the name of each country from which the plant may have been taken; and

That means you might list both the US and Canada as possible countries of origin for a red oak product or maybe you have a European white oak that might have come from both France and Germany. In the case of the latter situation, you might actually have four distinct data entry lines:

That data accurately reflects one business reality where a company might have more than one source of material where the species of lumbers are regularly intermixed. It may not be particularly meaningful data, but that’s what you’re expected to enter.

Time to review your data! Make sure you’ve got it right.

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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