[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 85 (Thursday, May 2, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 25620-25623]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-10382]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 85 / Thursday, May 2, 2013 / Proposed 
Rules

[[Page 25620]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 319

[Docket No. APHIS-2012-0078]
RIN 0579-AD72


Importation of Female Squash Flowers From Israel Into the 
Continental United States

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: We are proposing to amend the regulations governing the 
importation of fruits and vegetables to allow the importation of female 
squash flowers from Israel into the continental United States. As a 
condition of entry, female squash flowers from Israel would be subject 
to a systems approach that would include requirements for pest 
exclusion at the production site and fruit fly trapping and monitoring. 
The female squash flowers would also be required to be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection 
organization of Israel with an additional declaration that the female 
squash flowers had been inspected and found free of quarantine pests. 
This action would allow for the importation of female squash flowers 
from Israel into the continental United States while continuing to 
provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before July 
1, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2012-0078-0001.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2012-0078, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, 
APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1238.
    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may 
be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2012-
0078 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA 
South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, 
DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, 
please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Meredith Jones, Senior Regulatory 
Policy Specialist, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 
20737-1236; (301) 851-2289.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in ``Subpart-Fruits and Vegetables'' (7 CFR 319.56-
1 through 319.56-58, 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.
    Male squash flowers from Israel are currently admissible into the 
continental United States. However, the importation of female flowers 
is not allowed because the immature fruit that may be attached to the 
female flowers is a potential host of quarantine pests.
    The national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Israel has 
requested that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 
amend the regulations to allow female squash flowers from Israel to be 
imported into the continental United States. As part of our evaluation 
of Israel's request, we prepared a pest risk assessment (PRA) and a 
risk management document (RMD). Copies of the PRA and RMD may be 
obtained from the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT 
or viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site (see ADDRESSES above for 
instructions for accessing Regulations.gov).
    All female squash flowers may potentially have immature fruit 
attached. Although the fruit may be very small, it still poses a 
potential risk. Therefore, while we are proposing to allow the 
importation of female squash flowers specifically, the PRA, titled 
``Importation of Fresh Fruit and Flowers of Summer Squash, Cucurbita 
pepo L., from Israel into the Continental United States: A Qualitative, 
Pathway-initiated Risk Assessment'' (July 13, 2009), evaluates the 
risks associated with the importation of female squash flowers with and 
without fruit from Israel into the continental United States.
    The PRA identified two pests of quarantine significance present in 
Israel that could be introduced into the United States through the 
importation of immature fruit attached to female squash flowers. These 
are Ceratitis capitata (Mediterranean fruit fly or Medfly) and Dacus 
ciliatus (Ethiopian fruit fly). The documents also identified one pest 
that could be introduced by the importation of female squash flowers 
without fruit, Scirtothrips dorsalis (Chilli thrips), and one pest 
associated with both the female squash flower and squash fruit, 
Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworm). All four of these pests were 
determined to have a high risk potential.
    Based on the conclusions of the PRA and RMD, we are proposing to 
allow the importation of female squash flowers from Israel into the 
continental United States subject to a systems approach. Under a 
systems approach, a set of phytosanitary conditions, at least two of 
which have an independent effect in mitigating the pest risk associated 
with the movement of commodities, is specified, whereby fruits and 
vegetables may be imported into the United States from countries that 
are not free of certain pests. As a condition of entry, female squash 
flowers from Israel would be subject to requirements for pest exclusion 
at the production site, fruit fly trapping and monitoring, packing the 
flowers, and a phytosanitary certificate. The specific mitigation 
measures required in the systems approach are discussed below, as well 
as in the RMD.

Production Site Requirements

    Under proposed Sec.  319.56-59(a), female squash flowers from 
Israel would have to be grown in approved production sites registered 
with the NPPO of Israel. Initial approval of production sites would be 
completed jointly by the NPPO of Israel and APHIS. The NPPO of Israel 
would have

[[Page 25621]]

to visit and inspect the production sites to ensure that the necessary 
mitigation measures have been completed. APHIS would be able to monitor 
the production sites, if necessary. This condition would ensure that 
the required phytosanitary measures are properly implemented throughout 
the process of growing and packing female squash flowers for export to 
the United States.
    Production sites for female squash flowers would also have to be in 
pest-exclusionary structures (PES). The PES would be required to have 
self-closing double doors, and all openings, including vents, to the 
outside of the PES would have to be covered by screening with mesh 
openings of not more than 1.6 mm. Screening with openings of not more 
than 1.6 mm will prevent the introduction of pests, including fruit 
flies.

Mitigation Measures for Fruit Flies

    Proposed Sec.  319.56-59(b) would address the mitigation measures 
required for fruit flies. The NPPO of Israel would be required to set, 
maintain, and monitor fruit fly traps with an APHIS-approved bait at a 
density of one trap per hectare, with a minimum of one trap inside each 
PES and one trap outside the entrance of each PES. The traps would have 
to be checked every 7 days. We also propose to require the NPPO of 
Israel to maintain records of trap placement, trap maintenance, and 
captures of any fruit flies of concern. The trapping records would have 
to be made available to APHIS upon request.
    Capture of a single fruit fly of concern inside a registered 
production site would immediately result in cancellation of exports to 
the United States from that production site. The detection of a fruit 
fly of concern in a consignment at the port of entry that is traced 
back to a production site would also result in immediate cancellation 
of exports to the United States from that production site. In both 
cases, exports from the production site in question could not resume 
until APHIS and the NPPO of Israel have mutually determined that the 
risk has been properly mitigated.

Packinghouse Requirements

    Proposed Sec.  319.56-59(c) would specify that, while being used 
for packing female squash flowers for export to the United States, the 
packinghouses would only be allowed to accept flowers from registered 
production sites. This requirement would reduce the risk that 
quarantine pests are introduced to flowers exported to the United 
States in the packinghouse.

Post-Harvest Procedures

    Under proposed Sec.  319.56-59(d), female squash flowers would have 
to be placed in cartons or containers while still in the PES. The 
cartons or containers would have to be marked to show the official 
registration number of the production site. The place of production 
where the flowers were grown must remain identifiable from the time 
when the blossoms leave the PES, to the packinghouse, and through the 
export process. This requirement would allow the shipments to be traced 
back to the production site in the event of the discovery of a pest.

Commercial Consignments

    Under proposed Sec.  319.56-59(e), only commercial consignments of 
female squash flowers would be allowed to be imported. Commercial 
consignments, as defined in Sec.  319.56-2, are consignments that an 
inspector identifies as having been imported for sale and distribution. 
Such identification is based on a variety of indicators, including, but 
not limited to: Quantity of produce, type of packaging, identification 
of grower or packinghouse on the packaging, and documents consigning 
the fruits or vegetables to a wholesaler or retailer. Produce grown 
commercially is less likely to be infested with plant pests than 
noncommercial consignments. Noncommercial consignments are more prone 
to infestations because the commodity is often ripe to overripe, could 
be of a variety with unknown susceptibility to pests, and is often 
grown with little or no pest control.

Inspection and Phytosanitary Certificate

    Because H. armigera and S. dorsalis are large external feeders that 
cause easily visible damage, they would likely be detected during 
inspection. Under proposed Sec.  319.56-59(f), each consignment of 
female squash flowers would have to be accompanied by a phytosanitary 
certificate issued by the NPPO of Israel with an additional declaration 
stating that the consignment has been inspected and found free of C. 
capitata, D. ciliatus, H. armigera, and S. dorsalis. This requirement 
would certify that the provisions of the regulations have been met.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This proposed 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 ADDRESSES above for 
instructions for accessing Regulations.gov).
    This proposed rule would amend the regulations to allow, under 
certain conditions, the importation of female squash flowers from 
Israel into the continental United States. Squash flowers have gained 
popularity as a garnish for dishes, desserts, and salads, and as an 
ingredient in other dishes. Marketing of commercially grown edible 
flowers is typically directed to upscale restaurants.
    Farms that solely produce squash flowers are rare. The blossoms are 
typically a byproduct of squash fruit production. Squash is 
commercially produced throughout the United States, but principally in 
Michigan, California, Florida, and Georgia.
    The Small Business Administration's small-entity standard for U.S. 
farms that produce squash is annual receipts of not more than $750,000. 
In 2007, the average market value of sales by the 11,821 U.S. farms 
that produced squash was about $17,222, well below the small-entity 
standard. We infer that by far most farms producing squash, including 
farms producing squash flowers, are small entities.
    Israel is expecting to export 10 metric tons of fresh female squash 
flowers annually to the United States. We do not know the quantity or 
value of female squash flower production in the United States, or the 
quantity or value of female squash flowers imported from other 
countries. Without basic production and trade information, we are 
unable to evaluate potential impacts of this proposed rule. We welcome 
information of this type that would permit an analysis of possible 
effects for U.S squash flower producers.

Executive Order 12988

    This proposed rule would allow female squash flowers to be imported 
into the continental United States from Israel. If this proposed rule 
is adopted, State and local laws and regulations regarding female 
squash flowers imported under this rule would be preempted while the 
product is in foreign commerce. Fresh fruits and vegetables are 
generally imported for immediate distribution and sale to the consuming 
public and would remain in foreign commerce until sold to the

[[Page 25622]]

ultimate consumer. The question of when foreign commerce ceases in 
other cases must be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If this proposed 
rule is adopted, 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 section 3507(d) of the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), the information collection or 
recordkeeping requirements included in this proposed rule have been 
submitted for approval to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). 
Please send written comments to the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs, OMB, Attention: Desk Officer for APHIS, Washington, 
DC 20503. Please state that your comments refer to Docket No. APHIS-
2012-0078. Please send a copy of your comments to: (1) Docket No. 
APHIS-2012-0078, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, 
Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238, 
and (2) Clearance Officer, OCIO, USDA, room 404-W, 14th Street and 
Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250. A comment to OMB is best 
assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of 
publication of this proposed rule.
    APHIS is proposing to amend the regulations governing the 
importation of fruits and vegetables to allow the importation of female 
squash flowers from Israel into the continental United States. As a 
condition of entry, female squash flowers from Israel would be subject 
to a systems approach that would include requirements for pest 
exclusion at the production site and fruit fly trapping and monitoring. 
The importation of female squash flowers from Israel will also require 
information collection activities that include production site 
registrations, trapping records, box markings, and phytosanitary 
certificates issued by the national plant protection organization of 
Israel with an additional declaration that the female squash flowers 
had been inspected and found free of quarantine pests. This action 
would allow for the importation of female squash flowers from Israel 
into the continental United States while continuing to provide 
protection against the introduction of quarantine pests.
    We are soliciting comments from the public (as well as affected 
agencies) concerning our proposed information collection and 
recordkeeping requirements. These comments will help us:
    (1) Evaluate whether the proposed information collection is 
necessary for the proper performance of our agency's functions, 
including whether the information will have practical utility;
    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the 
proposed information collection, including the validity of the 
methodology and assumptions used;
    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to 
be collected; and
    (4) Minimize the burden of the information collection on those who 
are to respond (such as through the use of appropriate automated, 
electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic 
submission of responses).
    Estimate of burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of 
information is estimated to average 0.0455 hours per response.
    Respondents: Producers and importers of female squash flowers, and 
the NPPO of Israel.
    Estimated annual number of respondents: 6.
    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 1,743.
    Estimated annual number of responses: 10,458.
    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 476 hours. (Due to 
averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of 
the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per 
response.)
    Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Mrs. 
Celeste Sickles, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 
851-2908.

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 proposed 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 propose to amend 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.  319.56-59 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  319.56-59  Female squash flowers from Israel.

    Female squash flowers (Cucurbita pepo L.) may be imported into the 
continental United States from Israel only in accordance with this 
section and other applicable provisions of this subpart. These 
conditions are designed to prevent the introduction of the following 
quarantine pests: Ceratitis capitata, Dacus ciliatus, Helicoverpa 
armigera, and Scirtothrips dorsalis.
    (a) Production site requirements. (1) Production sites in which the 
female squash flowers are produced must be registered with the national 
plant protection organization (NPPO) of Israel. Initial approval of 
production sites must be completed jointly by the NPPO of Israel and 
APHIS.
    (2) The NPPO of Israel must visit and inspect the production sites. 
APHIS may monitor the production sites if necessary.
    (3) Production sites must be inside pest-exclusionary structures 
(PES). The PES must have self-closing double doors. All openings, 
including vents, to the outside of the PES must be covered by screening 
with mesh openings of not more than 1.6 mm.
    (b) Mitigation measures for fruit flies (C. capitata and D. 
ciliatus). (1) The NPPO of Israel must set and maintain fruit fly traps 
with an APHIS-approved bait at a rate of one trap per hectare, with a 
minimum of one trap in each PES and one outside the entrance of each 
PES. The NPPO of Israel must check the traps every 7 days and maintain 
records of trap placement, trap maintenance, and captures of any fruit 
flies of concern. The NPPO must maintain trapping records and make the 
records available to APHIS upon request.
    (2) Capture of a single fruit fly of concern inside a production 
site will immediately result in cancellation of exports to the United 
States from that production site. The detection of a fruit fly of 
concern in a consignment at the port of entry that is traced back to a 
production site will also result in immediate cancellation of exports 
to the United States from that production site. In both cases, exports 
from the production site in question may not resume until APHIS and the 
NPPO of

[[Page 25623]]

Israel have mutually determined that the risk has been properly 
mitigated.
    (c) Packinghouse requirements. While in use for exporting female 
squash flowers to the United States, the packinghouses may only accept 
flowers from registered production sites.
    (d) Post-harvest procedures. Before being removed from the PES, 
harvested female squash flowers must be placed in field cartons or 
containers that are marked to show the official registration number of 
the production site. The place of production where the flowers were 
grown must remain identifiable from the time when the blossoms leave 
the production site, to the packinghouse, and through the export 
process.
    (e) Commercial consignments. The female squash flowers may be 
imported in commercial consignments only.
    (f) Phytosanitary certificate. Each consignment must be accompanied 
by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Israel with an 
additional declaration stating that the consignment has been inspected 
and found free of Ceratitis capitata, Dacus ciliatus, Helicoverpa 
armigera, and Scirtothrips dorsalis.

     Done in Washington, DC, this 26th day of April 2013.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-10382 Filed 5-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P