While you were hopefully celebrating the Independence Day holiday with your family at the beach or perhaps relaxing at your favorite fishing spot you may have missed the announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced proposals that would affect the Lacey Act’s import declaration requirement. The two proposals would provide exceptions to the import declaration for certain composite wood material as well as items with a small or “de minimis” amount of wood material. While these proposals have been anticipated for several years, IWPA staff is carefully parsing the proposed regulatory language so that we can work closely with APHIS to ensure that any final action is responsive to the needs of our industry.
First, let’s look at the proposed exception to the Lacey Act import declaration requirement for products containing a de minimis amount of plant material which is expected to be enacted following APHIS’s incorporation of stakeholder comments. As wood products importers know, the Lacey Act requires an import declaration for certain plants and plant products, and importers must include the scientific name of the plant, the value of the importation, the quantity of the plant or plant product, and the name of the country where the plant was harvested. APHIS points out that the Lacey Act does not address whether the import declaration requirement is necessary for otherwise non-plant products that contain a minimal amount of plant material such as wooden buttons on a shirt. While the vast majority of shipments entered by IWPA members would not meet the de minimis threshold, it will be necessary to ensure that any exception does not lead to unintended consequences for wood products importers as APHIS proposes changes to establish the threshold.
Somewhat more interesting is APHIS’s request for comments on a possible regulatory exception for composite plant material. As those who import composite wood products know, composite plant material is currently covered by a so-called Special Use Designation (SUD). Importers of composite material can currently list the genus and species of that material as “special/composite” and list all known countries of harvest. APHIS is currently at the beginning stages determining whether it is possible to provide an explicit exception for composite material below certain thresholds. If you currently use the “special/composite” SUD you will want to pay close attention to this matter as eventual changes could dramatically affect your due diligence procedures.
APHIS has asked stakeholders to provide feedback on these proposals by September 7th. In addition to IWPA’s own industry-wide comments, we are hopeful that companies that could be impacted by these changes will consider offering their own comments based on their practices. If you are not part of IWPA’s Due Care and Education Committee but would still like to help guide preparation of our comments, please reach out to Joe O’Donnell via e-mail at Joe@IWPAwood.org.
On a much lighter note, it is summer in an even-numbered year which means that many in our industry are preparing to descend on Atlanta for the International Woodworking Fair (IWF). In addition to hosting our usual IWPA booth, we are looking forward to our first “Due Care Week.” On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, August 20-22, IWPA will host all four of our Wood Trade Compliance Training courses at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center. Spots are filling up fast so visit www.IWPAwood.org to register. We look forward to seeing IWPA members and their guests at the IWPA Reception which will take place Thursday, August 23rd from 5:00 to 6:00 PM. We can’t wait to see you in Atlanta!