[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 251 (Tuesday, December 31, 2013)]
[Unknown Section]
[Pages 79634-79636]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-31144]


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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. 251 / Tuesday, December 31, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules  

[[Page 79634]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 319

[Docket No. APHIS-2013-0016]
RIN 0579-AD81


Importation of Fresh Blueberry Fruit From Morocco 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 concerning the 
importation of fruits and vegetables to allow the importation of fresh 
blueberry fruit from Morocco into the continental United States. As a 
condition of entry, the blueberries would have to be produced under a 
systems approach employing a combination of mitigation measures for two 
quarantine pests, Ceratitis capitata and Monilinia fructigena, and 
would have to be inspected prior to exportation from Morocco and found 
free of these pests. The blueberries would have to be imported in 
commercial consignments only and would have to be treated with one of 
two approved postharvest treatments to mitigate the risk of C. 
capitata. The blueberries would also have to be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that 
the conditions for importation have been met. This action would allow 
the importation of blueberries from Morocco while continuing to protect 
against the introduction of plant pests into the United States.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before March 
3, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0016-0001.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to 
Docket No. APHIS-2013-0016, 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-2013-
0016 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. Dorothy Wayson, Senior Regulatory 
Policy Specialist, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 
20737-1231; (301) 851-2036.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The regulations in ``Subpart--Fruits and Vegetables'' (7 CFR 
319.56-1 through 319.56-62, 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.
    The national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Morocco has 
requested that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 
amend the regulations to allow fresh blueberry fruit from Morocco to be 
imported into the continental United States.
    As part of our evaluation of Morocco's request, we prepared a pest 
risk assessment (PRA), titled ``Importation of Fresh Fruit of Highbush 
Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum Linnaeus) and its hybrid varieties 
Southern Highbush Blueberry [V. corymbosum x angustifolium (V. x 
atlanticum) and V. corymbosum x virgatum] into the Continental United 
States from Morocco'' (March 2012). The PRA evaluated the risks 
associated with the importation of blueberries into the continental 
United States from Morocco.
    The PRA identified two pests of quarantine significance present in 
Morocco that could be introduced into the United States through the 
importation of blueberries: Ceratitis capitata, the Meditterranean 
fruit fly, and Monilinia fructigena Honey ex Whetzel, a fungus.
    According to our PRA, both pests are rated high risk. Pests with 
high pest risk potential generally require measures in addition to 
inspection at the port of entry to mitigate risk. To recommend specific 
measures to mitigate the risk posed by the pests identified in the PRA, 
we prepared 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).
    Based on the recommendations of the RMD, we are proposing to allow 
the importation of blueberries from Morocco into the continental United 
States only if they are produced in accordance with a systems approach. 
The systems approach we are proposing would require that blueberries be 
imported only under the conditions described below. These conditions 
would be added to the regulations in a new Sec.  319.56-63.
    Proposed paragraph (a) of Sec.  319.56-63 would state that 
blueberries from Morocco may be imported in commercial consignments 
only. Produce grown commercially is less likely to be infested with 
plant pests than noncommercial shipments. Noncommercial shipments 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. 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.
    Paragraph (b) would require blueberries to be grown at places of 
production that are registered with the

[[Page 79635]]

NPPO of Morocco. Registering places of production would allow APHIS and 
the NPPO of Morocco to trace back consignments of blueberries to the 
orchard of origin if a pest or disease of concern is detected after 
harvest.
    M. fructigena is the most common cause of fruit rot in the fruit 
orchards in Europe and Asia, causing characteristic brown rot symptoms 
that can easily be identified during visual inspections. Therefore, 
paragraph (c) would require that, 30 days prior to harvest, blueberries 
be inspected in the field by the NPPO of Morocco for signs of M. 
fructigena infestation. If the fungal disease is detected, the NPPO of 
Morocco would have to notify APHIS, at which point APHIS will prohibit 
the importation of blueberries into the continental United States from 
the place of production for the remainder of the season. The place of 
production may resume shipments of blueberries to the United States in 
the next growing season if an investigation is conducted and APHIS and 
the NPPO of Morocco agree that appropriate remedial actions have been 
taken.
    C. capitata produce oviposition scars in blueberries, but eggs are 
laid below the skin of the fruit and larvae are internal feeders; 
therefore, infested fruit may be overlooked during inspection. Thus, 
additional safeguards beyond field and packinghouse inspections would 
be necessary to prevent the pest from being introduced into the United 
States. The RMD discusses the use of two treatments to reduce the risk 
of C. capitata from blueberries from Morocco: Fumigation with methyl 
bromide according to treatment schedule T101-i-1-1 or cold treatment 
according to treatment schedule T107-a. Both are approved APHIS 
treatments for C. capitata in blueberries.
    Accordingly, paragraph (d) would require that each consignment of 
blueberries be treated in accordance with 7 CFR part 305 for C. 
capitata with one of the two above-mentioned treatment methods. Within 
part 305, Sec.  305.2 provides that approved treatment schedules are 
set out in the Plant Protection and Quarantine Treatment Manual, found 
online at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/ports/downloads/treatment.pdf. Treatments would also be conducted in 
accordance with the other requirements of part 305.
    Paragraph (e) of Sec.  319.56-63 would require each consignment of 
blueberries imported from Morocco into the continental United States to 
be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of 
Morocco with an additional declaration stating that the requirements of 
Sec.  319.56-63 have been met and the consignment has been inspected 
and found free of M. fructigena.
    Under the general conditions for the importation of fruits and 
vegetables in Sec.  319.56-3, each consignment of blueberries would be 
subject to further inspection at the port of entry into the United 
States.

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).
    Morocco expects to export 360,000 pounds of fresh blueberries to 
the continental United States annually. This quantity is equivalent to 
about one-tenth of 1 percent of U.S fresh blueberry supply, 2007-2011. 
Morocco is expected to export fresh blueberries to the continental 
United States in July and August. The U.S. blueberry season is from 
April to August. Even though the two seasons overlap and most, if not 
all, fresh blueberry producers in the United States are small entities, 
the relatively small quantity expected to be imported from Morocco 
would not significantly affect the U.S. market or prices.
    Under these circumstances, the Administrator of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that this action would 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.

Executive Order 12988

    This proposed rule would allow fresh blueberry fruit to be imported 
into the continental United States from Morocco. If this proposed rule 
is adopted, State and local laws and regulations regarding blueberries 
imported under this rule would be preempted while the fruit is in 
foreign commerce. Fresh fruits 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. 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-
2013-0016. Please send a copy of your comments to: (1) APHIS, using one 
of the methods described under ADDRESSES at the beginning of this 
document, 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.
    This proposed rule would amend the fruits and vegetables 
regulations to allow the importation of fresh blueberry fruit from 
Morocco into the continental United States. As a condition of entry, 
the blueberries would have to be produced under a systems approach 
employing a combination of mitigation measures for two quarantine pests 
and would have to be inspected prior to exportation from Morocco and 
found free of these pests. The blueberries would have to be imported in 
commercial consignments only and would have to be treated with one of 
two approved postharvest treatments to mitigate the risk of C. 
capitata. The blueberries would also have to be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that 
the conditions for importation have been met. Implementing this 
rulemaking would require production site registration and the 
completion of phytosanitary certificates.
    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;

[[Page 79636]]

    (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 .55 hours per response.
    Respondents: NPPO of Morocco, blueberry producers in Morocco, and 
U.S. importers.
    Estimated annual number of respondents: 8.
    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 3.
    Estimated annual number of responses: 20.
    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 11 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 EGovernment 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.

Lists 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 proposing 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. Section 319.56-63 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  319.56-63  Fresh blueberries from Morocco.

    Fresh fruit of highbush blueberry (Vaccinimum corymbosum L.) and 
its hybrid varieties southern highbush blueberry [V. corymbosum x 
angustifolium (V. x atlanticum) and V. corymbosum x virgatum] may be 
imported into the continental United States from Morocco only under the 
conditions described in this section. These conditions are designed to 
prevent the introduction of the following quarantine pests: Ceratitis 
capitata, the Mediterranean fruit fly, and the fungus Monilinia 
fructigena Honey ex Whetzel.
    (a) The blueberries may be imported in commercial consignments 
only.
    (b) The blueberries must be grown at places of production that are 
registered with the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of 
Morocco.
    (c) During the growing season, blueberries must be inspected in the 
field for signs of M. fructigena infestation 30 days prior to harvest. 
If the fungal disease is detected, the NPPO of Morocco must notify 
APHIS. APHIS will prohibit the importation of blueberries from Morocco 
into the continental United States from the place of production for the 
remainder of the growing season. The exportation of blueberries from 
the rejected place of production may resume in the next growing season 
if an investigation is conducted and APHIS and the NPPO of Morocco 
agree that appropriate remedial actions have been taken.
    (d) Each consignment of blueberries must be treated in accordance 
with 7 CFR part 305 for C. capitata.
    (e) Each consignment of blueberries must be accompanied by a 
phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Morocco with an 
additional declaration stating that the conditions of this section have 
been met, and that the consignment has been inspected prior to export 
from Morocco and found free of M. fructigena.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 20th day of December 2013.
Kevin Shea,
Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-31144 Filed 12-30-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P