The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today has delayed the effective date of Federal Order DA-2021, which was announced May 27. It initially was scheduled to take effect on Monday, June 21, but now it officially has been pushed back to Monday, July 19. The order requires West Coast states to pre-notify receiving states of plant orders containing taxa that can host Phytophthora ramorum.
Earlier this week, the presidents of the three major West Coast nursery associations – the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), the Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association (WSNLA) and the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANG) – issued a joint letter (PDF) that, in the strongest terms, urges APHIS to rescind the federal order.
“While this delay is a positive step, the OAN will continue to advocate for rescinding the Federal Order, which has no scientific basis and adds unnecessary regulation to the existing burden that West Coast states face,” OAN Director of Publications and Communications Elizabeth Peters said.
In their letter, the three trade groups outlined several objections to the order:
- It would greatly increase costs for both large and small nurseries.
- It penalizes clean nurseries in certain states by placing them under the same notification requirements as those few nurseries that have tested positive.
- Its requirements would generate a “voluminous” amount of paperwork which, in reality, would not help nurseries trace disease any better than the current system.
Further, the states contend that P. ramorum detections are going down, so there is no emergency to justify imposing the order, particularly without the usual process of public input.
It is believed that APHIS issued the order to appease certain states that desire to restrict the interstate trade of nursery products. “APHIS damages the credibility of the existing safeguards by providing an advance warning that plants it deems safe are on the way,” the letter states.