[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 179 (Monday, September 17, 2007)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 52776-52779]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-18276]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 305

[Docket No. APHIS-2007-0061]
RIN 0579-AC40


Importation of Blueberries From South Africa, Uruguay, and 
Argentina With Cold Treatment

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are allowing the importation into the continental United 
States of fresh blueberries from South Africa and Uruguay under certain 
conditions. As a condition of entry, the blueberries will have to 
undergo cold treatment and will have to be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection 
organization of the exporting country. This action will allow for the 
importation of blueberries from South Africa and Uruguay into the 
continental United States while continuing to provide protection 
against the introduction of quarantine pests. In addition, we are 
allowing the use of cold treatment for blueberries imported into the 
United States from Argentina. This action provides an alternative to 
the methyl bromide treatment that is currently required for blueberries 
imported from Argentina.

EFFECTIVE DATE: September 17, 2007.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Tony Rom[aacute]n, Import 
Specialist, Commodity Import Analysis and Operation Staff, PPQ, APHIS, 
4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 734-8758.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in ``Subpart--Fruits and Vegetables'' (7 CFR 319.56 
through 319.56-47, referred to below as the regulations) prohibit or 
restrict the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United 
States from certain parts of the world to prevent the introduction and 
dissemination of plant pests that are new to or not widely distributed 
within the United States.
    On June 5, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 30979-
30984, Docket No. APHIS 2007-0061) a proposal \1\ to amend the 
regulations to allow the importation into the continental United States 
of fresh blueberries from South Africa and Uruguay under certain 
conditions. As a condition of entry, we proposed that the blueberries 
would have to undergo cold treatment and would have to be accompanied 
by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection 
organization (NPPO) of the exporting country. In addition, we proposed 
to allow the use of cold treatment for blueberries imported into the 
United States from Argentina.
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    \1\ To view the proposed rule and the comments we received, go 
to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/
main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2007-0061.
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    We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 45 days ending 
July 20, 2007. We received six comments by that date. They were from 
blueberry distributors, a commercial fumigation company, and a 
blueberry industry group. Four of the commenters supported the proposed 
rule. One commenter did not address the proposed rule.
    One commenter objected to the proposed rule. The commenter 
expressed concern that we did not consult with domestic blueberry 
producers prior to issuing the proposal and that the studies conducted 
in support of the rule were conducted hastily. Because the proposed 
rule and its supporting risk analysis were focused on identifying and 
managing the risks associated with importing blueberries from Uruguay 
and South Africa, we did not find it necessary to consult with the 
domestic blueberry industry during the preparation of those documents. 
The risk assessment and risk management documents were drafted using 
the same approach and in the same timeframe as the other risk analyses 
the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) prepares or 
reviews. In addition, we offered the public, including domestic 
blueberry producers, the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule 
following its publication in the Federal Register.
    The commenter further stated that information in the proposed rule 
regarding domestic production is out of date and incorrect, and 
suggested that we refer to information released by the North American 
Blueberry Council (NABC). The data we used in the proposed rule's 
economic analysis was taken from the National Agricultural Statistics 
Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS), with the ERS 
report cited being the most current data available (May 2007). The data 
we received incorporates information from a variety of sources, 
including the NABC.
    Finally, the commenter expressed concern regarding the lack of 
market access for U.S.-grown blueberries into Uruguay and South Korea. 
This is not germane to the proposal.

    Note: In a final rule published in the Federal Register on July 
18, 2007 (72 FR 39482-39528, Docket No. APHIS-2005-0106), we revised 
the fruits and vegetables regulations to establish a performance-
based process for approving the importation of commodities that, 
based on the findings of a pest risk analysis, can be safely 
imported subject to one or more of the designated phytosanitary 
measures listed in Sec.  319.56-4(b) of the regulations. Under those 
revised regulations, commodities that are authorized for importation 
subject only to one or more designated measures will be listed in 
the fruits and vegetables manual \2\ rather than being listed in the 
regulations. The requirements that will apply to the importation of 
blueberries from Uruguay and South Africa--i.e., that they be cold 
treated for specific pests, accompanied by a phytosanitary 
certificate, and imported in commercial consignments only--are all 
designated phytosanitary measures listed in Sec.  319.56-4(b). 
Therefore, we are not adding the provisions regarding the entry of 
blueberries from Uruguay and South Africa to the fruits and 
vegetables regulations in part 319 in this final rule; rather, those 
conditions will be listed in the fruits and vegetables manual. For 
those same reasons, the provisions regarding the importation of 
blueberries from Argentina were removed from the regulations in the 
July 2007 final

[[Page 52777]]

rule and placed in the fruits and vegetables manual.

    \2\ The fruits and vegetables manual is available on the 
Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/
ports/downloads/fv.pdf.
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    Therefore, for the reasons given in the proposed rule and in this 
document, we are adopting the proposed rule as a final rule, with the 
changes discussed in this document.

Effective Date

    This is a substantive rule that relieves restrictions and, pursuant 
to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 553, may be made effective less than 30 
days after publication in the Federal Register.
    Immediate implementation of this rule is necessary to provide 
relief to those persons who are adversely affected by restrictions we 
no longer find warranted. Therefore, the Administrator of the Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this rule 
should be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. The rule 
has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive 
Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget.
    We are allowing the importation into the continental United States 
of fresh blueberries from South Africa and Uruguay under certain 
conditions. As a condition of entry, the blueberries will have to 
undergo cold treatment and will have to be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of the exporting country. 
This action allows for the importation of blueberries from South Africa 
and Uruguay into the continental United States while continuing to 
provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests. In 
addition, we are allowing the use of cold treatment for blueberries 
imported into the United States from Argentina. This action will 
provide an alternative to the currently approved methyl bromide 
treatment.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that agencies 
consider the economic impact of their rules on small businesses, 
organizations, and governmental jurisdictions. In accordance with 
section 604 of the RFA, we have prepared a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis describing the expected impact of the changes in this rule on 
small entities. During the comment period for our proposed rule, we 
received one comment pertaining to the initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis presented in that document. The commenter stated that 
information in the proposed rule regarding domestic blueberry 
production is out of date and incorrect and suggested that we refer to 
information released by NABC. The data we used in the proposed rule's 
economic analysis was from NASS and ERS, with the ERS report cited 
being the most current data available (May 2007). The data we received 
from NASS incorporates information from a variety of sources, including 
NABC.
    The United States is the largest producer of blueberries, supplying 
more than half the world's production (55 percent). Canada follows with 
28 percent of world supplies and Poland comes third with 10 percent of 
the world's blueberry fruit production.
    Michigan, Maine, and New Jersey are the leading States in U.S. 
blueberry production. Combined, these three States produce more than 
half of all U.S. blueberries (table 1). Nine States account for 98 
percent of U.S. production. Fresh blueberries require harvesting by 
hand, whereas blueberries destined for processing can be machine-
harvested. The cost of farm labor is considerably higher in the United 
States than in many other countries.

   Table 1.--U.S. Production and Value of Blueberries for the Fresh Market in 2005 and Farm Acreage in 2002 by
                                                  Major States
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                  State                                  2005                                2002
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                                                                (million
                                            (metric tons)       dollars)       Number of acres   Number of farms
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Michigan................................          29,937.1             $83.5            17,274               590
Maine...................................          26,988.7              39.0               293               116
New Jersey..............................          20,411.7              55.5             7,468               240
Oregon..................................          15,648.9              33.3             3,887               659
North Carolina..........................          11,793.4              36.7             5,009               267
Georgia.................................          11,793.5              31.8             4,451               408
Washington..............................           8,890.4              19.2             2,569               289
California..............................           4,127.7              40.6               827                97
Florida.................................           2,358.7              32.8             1,646               343
Sum.....................................     131,950 (98%)       372.3 (98%)      43,424 (84%)       3,009 (47%)
Rest of United States...................           3,070.9               9.1             8,578             3,419
United States total.....................         135,021.0             381.4            52,002            6,428
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Sources: USDA/NASS New England, Oregon, and Washington field offices; North American Blueberry Council; Table
  33--Berries Harvested for Sale, 2002 U.S. Census of Agriculture by State, pp. 496-497, USDA/NASS; and Table D-
  2. Blueberries: Commercial Acreage, Production, and Value, Fruit and Tree Nuts Situation and Outlook Yearbook,
  May 2007, USDA/ERS.

    In 2005, the United States produced 135,021 metric tons of highbush 
blueberries destined for the fresh market, valued at $381 million. In 
the United States, highbush blueberries are harvested from April to 
early October with the majority of the blueberries picked from mid-June 
to mid-August.
    Between 1995 and 2005, total U.S. blueberry consumption increased 
by 47 percent, from 13 ounces to 20 ounces per person. Most of the 
increase has been in the fresh market with a doubling in fresh 
consumption, from 4.3 ounces per person in 1995 to 8.7 ounces in 2005.
    Table 2 shows U.S. imports and exports of fresh blueberries for the 
past 3 years. The United States is a net importer, and our major 
foreign supplier of fresh blueberries (by value) is Canada. Annual U.S. 
imports of fresh blueberries averaged 29,469 metric tons between 2004 
and 2006.

[[Page 52778]]



                       Table 2.--U.S. Imports and Exports of Fresh Blueberries, 2004-2006
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                          Year                              U.S. imports       U.S. exports       Net imports
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                                                                            (million dollars)
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
2004...................................................             $91.03             $29.40             $61.63
2005...................................................             109.82              45.60              64.22
2006...................................................             155.14              55.70              99.44
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                                                                              (metric tons)
                                                        --------------------------------------------------------
2004...................................................          28,887.30          15,183.80          13,693.50
2005...................................................          26,335.70          22,588.90           3,746.80
2006...................................................          32,601.50          22,952.30          9,649.20
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Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census, as reported by Global Trade Information Services.
Note: Based on the Harmonized Schedules 0810400028 and 0810400024.

    Argentina has supplied about 3 percent of the U.S. imports of fresh 
blueberries, or 880 metric tons, over the last 3 years. In 2006, 
Argentina reported 4,000 acres of land devoted to blueberry production, 
a 35 percent increase since 2003.
    The Uruguayan Government Statistics office indicates that Uruguay 
started producing blueberries in 2003, with 65 metric tons harvested 
that year. In the following 3 years, Uruguay produced 80, 120, and 200 
metric tons, respectively. For 2007 through 2009, crop volumes of 
around 500, 1,200, and 2,000 metric tons are forecast.
    The Government of Uruguay has indicated its intention to export 
between 200 and 1,200 metric tons of fresh blueberries annually for the 
next 3 years starting in 2007, with 200 metric tons shipped annually to 
the continental United States (an amount that exceeds Uruguay's total 
exports of fresh blueberries in recent years).\3\ Even if this export 
target were met, imports from Uruguay will represent less than 1 
percent of U.S. imports of fresh blueberries in 2006.
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    \3\ Uruguay started exporting fresh blueberries in 2003, with an 
amount of 250 kilograms or 0.4 metric ton. The following 3 years, 
2004-2006, Uruguay exported 3.8, 18.7 and 94.2 metric tons, 
respectively. Source: Uruguayan Government, Ines Ares (personal 
communication).
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    Uruguay's main export season for fresh blueberries is between 
November and April. During this season, the supply of fresh blueberries 
by U.S. producers is limited. Fresh blueberries are generally harvested 
in the United States by early May through the beginning of September. 
U.S. domestic shipments of fresh blueberries reach their highest volume 
between late June and mid-August.
    APHIS does not have data on South African production of blueberry 
fruits (Vaccinium spp.). Foreign Agricultural Service statistics 
indicate that South Africa exported an annual average of 75 metric tons 
of Vaccinium spp. between 2000 and 2004. Specifically, in 2000 the 
Republic of South Africa exported 3 metric tons, then in the following 
4 years, 90, 83, 86, and 109 metric tons, respectively. In sum, the 
quantities of fresh blueberry expected to be imported into the United 
States from Uruguay and the Republic of South Africa are small, 
representing less than 1 percent of U.S. imports and less than one-
tenth of 1 percent of the United States' domestic supply (production 
plus imports minus exports). Moreover, blueberry production in these 
two countries takes place during our winter months; their blueberry 
shipments to the United States would largely compete with blueberry 
imports from other countries. We do not expect the changes we are 
making to have a significant economic impact on U.S. entities. U.S. 
entities that could be affected by the changes are domestic producers 
of fresh blueberries and wholesalers that import fresh blueberries. 
Businesses producing fresh blueberries are classified in the North 
American Industry Classification System (NAICS) within the category of 
Other Vegetable (except Potato) and Melon Farming (NAICS code 111219). 
The Small Business Administration's small-entity definition for these 
producers is annual receipts of not more than $750,000. Firms that will 
import fresh blueberry fruits from Uruguay and the Republic of South 
Africa are defined as small entities if they have 100 or fewer 
employees (NAICS code 424480, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Merchant 
Wholesalers).\4\
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    \4\ The wholesale sector comprises two types of wholesalers: 
Those that sell goods on their own account and those that arrange 
sales and purchases for others for a commission or fee. Importers 
are included in both cases.
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    In general, firms engaged in production or importation of 
agricultural commodities are predominantly small. We believe that most 
if not all of the businesses affected by this rule would be small.
    We do not know the exact number of U.S. producers of fresh 
blueberries. According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture for the States 
where blueberries are produced, there were at least 6,428 farms growing 
blueberries in 52,000 acres of land (table 1). The majority of these 
farms (84 percent) are located in nine States. We do not know the 
percentage of blueberry farms that produce blueberries for the fresh 
market. Also, we do not know their size, but in general, such entities 
are predominantly small. The United States Census does not report sales 
receipts by farm or any other unit. The average farm size in these nine 
States is 15 acres, whereas the average farm size in the remainder of 
States that grow blueberries is 2.5 acres. However, as stated above, we 
do not expect this rulemaking to have a significant economic impact on 
U.S. entities.
    Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Executive Order 12988

    We are allowing fresh blueberries to be imported into the United 
States from South Africa and Uruguay. State and local laws and 
regulations regarding imported fresh blueberries will be preempted 
while the fruit is in foreign commerce. Fresh fruits are generally 
imported for immediate distribution and sale to the consuming public, 
and remain in foreign commerce until sold to the ultimate consumer. The 
question of when foreign commerce ceases in

[[Page 52779]]

other cases must be addressed on a case-by-case basis. No retroactive 
effect will be given to this rule, and this rule will not require 
administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court 
challenging this rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), the information collection or recordkeeping requirements 
included in this rule have been approved by the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) under OMB control number 0579-0321.

E-Government Act Compliance

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is committed to 
compliance with the E-Government Act to promote the use of the Internet 
and other information technologies, to provide increased opportunities 
for citizen access to Government information and services, and for 
other purposes. For information pertinent to E-Government Act 
compliance related to this rule, please contact Mrs. Celeste Sickles, 
APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 734-7477.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 305

    Irradiation, Phytosanitary treatment, Plant diseases and pests, 
Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

0
 Accordingly, we are amending 7 CFR part 305 as follows:

PART 305--PHYTOSANITARY TREATMENTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 305 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 
136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.


0
2. In Sec.  305.2, the table in paragraph (h)(2)(i) is amended as 
follows:
0
a. Under Argentina, by revising the entry for ``Blueberry'' to read as 
set forth below.
0
b. Under South Africa, by removing the entry for ``Apple, grape, pear'' 
and adding a new entry for ``Apple, blueberry, grape, pear'' in its 
place to read as set forth below.
0
c. In the entry for Uruguay, by adding an entry for ``Blueberry'' to 
read as set forth below.


Sec.  305.2  Approved treatments.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) * * *

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        Location                          Commodity                                    Pest                               Treatment schedule
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                                                                      * * * * * * *
Argentina
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
                         Blueberry.................................  Anastrepha fraterculus, Ceratitis        CT T107-a-1 or MB T101-i-1-1.
                                                                      capitata.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
South Africa...........  Apple, blueberry, grape, pear.............  Ceratitis capitata.....................  CT T107-a.
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
Uruguay
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
                         Blueberry.................................  Anastrepha fraterculus, Ceratitis        CT T107-a-1.
                                                                      capitata..
 
                                                                      * * * * * * *
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* * * * *

    Done in Washington, DC, this 12th day of September 2007.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-18276 Filed 9-14-07; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P