A report from Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President of Industry Advocacy and Research at AmericanHort, says the U.S. government is moving to implement a streamlined system for imports, in which all data required to gain admissibility for imports will be submitted electronically through a single window: Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The data submissions entered into ACE will need to satisfy the requirements of CBP, Regelbrugge says, as well as the several dozen other federal agencies that regulate imports in some fashion.
So how does this affect plant imports?
“Over time, the system promises a much simpler and more efficient experience,” Regelbrugge says. “It should also equip the federal agencies with better analysis capabilities, in the case of plants, to track and address quarantine pest and plant health concerns. In the meantime, there are fears of delays and other problems during the transition.”
To help importers prepare, USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service provided AmericanHort with a “frequently asked questions” document, and a list of software providers familiar with the APHIS message set (the specific data set that APHIS requires to clear plant imports). Contact AmericanHort for a copy of each of these documents.
“Most plant imports are handled through customs brokers or other trade facilitators, who would be the ones most likely to work with the software providers in the interest of simplifying the interface for uploading data on plant consignments into ACE,” Regelbrugge says.
AmericanHort will continue to share guidance with the industry as this process continues between now and the end of the year.