Monrovia is the first nursery outside the West Coast to be accepted into the U.S. Nursery Certification Program (USNCP), a program launched four years ago by the USDA that standardizes pest management practices and allows nursery stock to be shipped outside the U.S. without an export inspection.
The Cairo, Ga., nursery is Monrovia’s fourth facility to earn such designation. Its Dayton, Ore., nursery was among the first accepted when the program began pilot testing, and its Visalia and Venice Hills, Calif., facilities were accepted in 2007.
“While a majority of plant material shipped to Canada comes from our Oregon nursery, there is still a demand for tropical varieties and a wide range of plants we grow here in Georgia,” says Marty Langmaid, a Monrovia technical services manager.
Monrovia has established a system of policies and processes that have been approved by the USDA, and as part of the program all four nurseries will be audited on a regular basis. That protocol is designed to ensure plants remain pest free during production, and an inspection by the USDA or state agriculture officials of all plants leaving the nursery is not necessary. Phytosanitary certifications will be issued on a state level, based on Monrovia’s continued compliance with USNCP.
Langmaid says the program much more efficient than testing every plant before it leaves the nursery.
“A good analogy is in the U.S. food production industry,” he says. “Inspectors don’t test every can of food that is produced, but rather they set up production systems, that if adhered to, will ensure the food is safe.”
The USNCP guidelines cover a broad range of procedures, ranging from how to monitor plant material that is brought onto the nursery, to scouting crops for potential problems.
“This will save us as much as two to three weeks delay in shipments to our Northern neighbor (Canada),” Langmaid says, referring to the previous inspection process. “And it’s not just our Canadian customers who will benefit from our participation in this program. Our domestic customers can be confident that we are consistently producing pest-free plants.”
Monrovia has applied for certification for its North Carolina nursery, which, if approved, would make the USNCP certification company wide.
“We are constantly striving to grow and deliver the healthiest plants possible,” Langmaid says. “The USNCP protocol dovetails nicely with what we’ve already been doing.”
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