[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 74 (Tuesday, April 17, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 22663-22665]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-9184]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 319

[Docket No. APHIS-2010-0024]
RIN 0579-AD38


Importation of Pomegranates From Chile Under a Systems Approach

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are amending the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow 
the importation into the continental United States of pomegranates from 
Chile, subject to a systems approach. Under this systems approach, the 
fruit would have to be grown in a place of production that is 
registered with the national plant protection organization of Chile and 
certified as having a low prevalence of Brevipalpus chilensis. The 
fruit would have to undergo pre-harvest sampling at the registered 
production site. Following post-harvest processing, the fruit would 
have to be inspected in Chile at an approved inspection site. Each 
consignment of fruit would have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary 
certificate with an additional declaration stating that the fruit had 
been found free of Brevipalpus chilensis based on field and 
packinghouse inspections. This action will allow for the safe 
importation of fresh pomegranates from Chile using mitigation measures 
other than fumigation with methyl bromide.

DATES:  Effective Date: May 17, 2012.

[[Page 22664]]


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Claudia Ferguson, Regulatory 
Policy Specialist, Regulatory Coordination and Compliance, PPQ, APHIS, 
4700 River Road, Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 851-2352.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The regulations in ``Subpart--Fruits and Vegetables'' (7 CFR 
319.56-1 through 319.56-54, 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 within the United States.
    On March 16, 2011, we published in the Federal Register (76 FR 
14320-14323, Docket No. APHIS-2010-0024) a proposal \1\ to amend the 
regulations by allowing pomegranates and figs from Chile to be imported 
into the United States subject to a systems approach. Under this 
systems approach, the fruit would have to be grown in a place of 
production that is registered with the national plant protection 
organization of Chile and certified as having a low prevalence of 
Brevipalpus chilensis. The fruit would have to undergo pre-harvest 
sampling at the registered production site. Following post-harvest 
processing, the fruit would have to be inspected in Chile at an 
approved inspection site. Each consignment of fruit would have to be 
accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional 
declaration stating that the fruit had been found free of Brevipalpus 
chilensis based on field and packinghouse inspections.
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    \1\ To view the proposed rule, supporting documents, and the 
comments we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2010-0024.
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    We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending 
May 16, 2011. We received 28 comments by that date. They were from 
private citizens, port terminal operators, fruit wholesalers, 
producers, importers, exporters, trade associations, and 
representatives of State and foreign governments.
    Several of the comments we received were focused on figs, with the 
commenters raising concerns about the efficacy of the systems approach 
in addressing the risks associated with figs grown in Chile. In order 
to allow us more time to consider those issues without delaying action 
on approving the use of the systems approach for pomegranates, we have 
decided to not finalize the proposed provisions related to the 
importation of figs from Chile at this time, but may do so in a 
subsequent action. This final rule only addresses the comments we 
received on the proposed importation of pomegranates from Chile.
    Twenty-two of the commenters supported the proposed rule in its 
entirety. One comment concerning the importation of Chilean 
pomegranates did not raise any issues related to the pest risk analysis 
or proposed rule. The remaining comments on the importation of 
pomegranates are discussed below by topic.
    One commenter opposed the use of the methods described in the 
proposed rule to mitigate the potential entry of the quarantine pest 
Brevipalpus chilensis (Acari: Tenuipalpidae) into the commenter's State 
until a pest-free track record is established in shipments of 
pomegranate from Chile that are received in areas that are lower risk 
than the commenter's State for the pest's establishment in the United 
States.
    The mitigation measures for B. chilensis on pomegranates from Chile 
have been previously evaluated and proven effective in mitigating the 
risks presented by B. chilensis on other commodities from Chile, and we 
will continuously monitor the effectiveness of those mitigations with 
port-of-entry inspections. We do not consider it necessary to restrict 
the distribution of pomegranates from Chile when proven mitigations are 
available to mitigate the pest risk and will be required as a condition 
of importation.
    One commenter asked that the proposed rule be revised to specify 
that Chilean pomegranates may not be imported into Hawaii in order to 
protect locally grown pomegranate crops.
    We proposed that pomegranates from Chile would only be eligible for 
importation into the continental United States. By definition, the 
continental United States encompasses the lower 48 states, Alaska, and 
the District of Columbia, while excluding Hawaii. Our permitting 
process will allow us to effectively implement the distribution 
limitation, as it currently does for many other commodities that are 
not allowed to be imported into Hawaii.
    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 
change discussed in this document.

    Note:  In our March 2011 proposed rule, we proposed to add the 
conditions governing the importation of pomegranates from Chile as 
Sec.  319.56-51. In this final rule, those conditions are added as 
Sec.  319.56-56.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This 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.
    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, we have analyzed 
the potential economic effects of this action on small entities. The 
analysis is summarized below. Copies of the full analysis are available 
by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
or on the Regulations.gov Web site (see footnote 1 for a link to 
Regulations.gov).
    Pomegranates may be imported into the continental United States 
when fumigated with methyl bromide. This rule will allow the 
importation of fresh pomegranate fruit from Chile using a systems 
approach to pest risk mitigation. Under this systems approach, the 
fruit will be grown in a place of production that is registered with 
the Government of Chile and certified as having a low prevalence of B. 
chilensis. The fruit will undergo pre-harvest sampling and post-harvest 
inspection. Each consignment of fruit will be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that 
the fruit had been found free of B. chilensis based on field and 
packinghouse inspections.
    Entities potentially affected by the rule are U.S. pomegranate 
fruit growers. They are classified within the industry Other Non-citrus 
Fruit Farming, for which the Small Business Administration's small 
entity standard is annual sales of not more than $750,000. Annual 
receipts for this industry averaged about $112,000 in 2007, well below 
the small-entity standard.
    While most U.S. pomegranate operations are small, they are not 
expected to be significantly affected by the rule. Relatively small 
quantities of pomegranates are expected to be imported from Chile 
because of this rule, equivalent to less than 4 percent of the 
estimated U.S. production of pomegranates consumed domestically in 
recent years. Moreover, Chilean pomegranates will be imported during 
the U.S. off-season. The counter-seasonality will preclude negative 
price impacts for U.S. producers. Off-season availability of 
pomegranates from Chile may help broaden demand for this fruit, thereby 
benefiting domestic producers over time.
    Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service has

[[Page 22665]]

determined that this action will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12988

    This final rule allows fresh pomegranates to be imported into the 
continental United States from Chile. State and local laws and 
regulations regarding fresh pomegranates imported under this rule will 
be preempted while the fruit is in foreign commerce. Fresh pomegranates 
are generally imported for immediate distribution and sale to the 
consuming public and would remain in foreign commerce until sold to the 
ultimate consumer. The question of when foreign commerce ceases in 
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 0579-0375. Because we are not 
finalizing the provisions in the proposed rule related to the 
importation of figs from Chile, this approval covers only the 
information collection and recordkeeping requirements associated with 
the importation of pomegranates from Chile.

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) 851-2908.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 319

    Coffee, Cotton, Fruits, Imports, Logs, Nursery stock, Plant 
diseases and pests, Quarantine, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Rice, Vegetables.

    Accordingly, we are amending 7 CFR part 319 as follows:

PART 319--FOREIGN QUARANTINE NOTICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 319 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 450, 7701-7772, and 7781-7786; 21 U.S.C. 
136 and 136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.


0
2. A new Sec.  319.56-56 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  319.56-56  Fresh pomegranates from Chile.

    Fresh pomegranates (Punica granatum) may be imported into the 
continental United States from Chile under the following conditions:
    (a) Production site registration. The production site where the 
fruit is grown must be registered with the national plant protection 
organization (NPPO) of Chile. Harvested pomegranates must be placed in 
field cartons or containers that are marked to show the official 
registration number of the production site. Registration must be 
renewed annually.
    (b) Low-prevalence production site certification. The fruit must 
originate from a low-prevalence production site to be imported under 
the conditions in this section. Between 1 and 30 days prior to harvest, 
random samples of fruit must be collected from each registered 
production site under the direction of the NPPO of Chile. These samples 
must undergo a pest detection and evaluation method as follows: The 
fruit must be washed using a flushing method, placed in a 20-mesh sieve 
on top of a 200-mesh sieve, sprinkled with a liquid soap and water 
solution, washed with water at high pressure, and washed with water at 
low pressure. The process must then be repeated. The contents of the 
200-mesh sieve must then be placed on a petri dish and analyzed for the 
presence of live Brevipalpus chilensis mites. If a single live B. 
chilensis mite is found, the production site will not qualify for 
certification as a low-prevalence production site. Each production site 
may have only one opportunity per season to qualify as a low-prevalence 
production site, and certification of low prevalence will be valid for 
one harvest season only. The NPPO of Chile will present a list of 
certified production sites to APHIS.
    (c) Post-harvest processing. After harvest, all damaged or diseased 
fruits must be culled at the packinghouse and must be packed into new, 
clean boxes, crates, or other APHIS-approved packing containers. Each 
container in which the fruit is packed must have a label identifying 
the registered production site where the fruit originated and the 
packing shed where it was packed.
    (d) Phytosanitary inspection. Fruit must be inspected in Chile at 
an APHIS-approved inspection site under the direction of APHIS 
inspectors in coordination with the NPPO of Chile following any post-
harvest processing. A biometric sample must be drawn and examined from 
each consignment. Pomegranates in any consignment may be shipped to the 
continental United States under the conditions of this section only if 
the consignment passes inspection as follows:
    (1) Fruit presented for inspection must be identified in the 
shipping documents accompanying each lot of fruit to specify the 
production site or sites in which the fruit was produced and the 
packing shed or sheds in which the fruit was processed. This 
identification must be maintained until the fruit is released for entry 
into the United States.
    (2) A biometric sample of the boxes, crates, or other APHIS-
approved packing containers from each consignment will be selected by 
the NPPO of Chile, and the fruit from these boxes, crates, or other 
APHIS-approved packing containers will be visually inspected for 
quarantine pests. A portion of the fruit must be washed with soapy 
water and the collected filtrate must be microscopically examined for 
B. chilensis. If a single live B. chilensis mite is found during the 
inspection process, the certified low-prevalence production site where 
the fruit was grown will lose its certification.
    (e) Phytosanitary certificate. Each consignment of fresh 
pomegranates must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued 
by the NPPO of Chile that contains an additional declaration stating 
that the fruit in the consignment was inspected and found free of 
Brevipalpus chilensis based on field and packinghouse inspections.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control 
number 0579-0375)

    Done in Washington, DC, this 11th day of April 2012.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-9184 Filed 4-16-12; 8:45 am]
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