U.S. importers of plants and plant products will find their compliance plates pretty full by year's end. Starting in late November or in December, plant and plant product importers will be required to file declarations that state the scientific name of any plant in a shipment along with the plant species' country of origin and a description of the plant or plant product's value and quantity (including the appropriate unit of measurement). The new requirement was included in the Farm Bill passed during the summer. Currently, only importers of certain regulated plants or plant products must comply with these requirements.
The new measure applies to all members of the plant kingdom, including roots, seeds, and parts and related products, both wild and domesticated. If the plant species is unknown, the declaration must contain the name of each species that may have been used to produce the product.
More than 8,000 "lines" of plants or plant products could potentially be subject to the rule, according to one large customs broker's customer newsletter. Some observers believe the rule could be interpreted to include wood and paper products, as well as some types of furniture, textiles, and apparel. Under this interpretation, a company importing a cooking pan with a wooden handle would be required to declare the value of the handle, the genus and species of the wood, the weight or alternate measure of the handle, and the origin country of the wood before it became a handle.