[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 58 (Wednesday, March 26, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 16651-16656]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-06619]



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Rules and Regulations
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Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 58 / Wednesday, March 26, 2014 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 16651]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 319

[Docket No. APHIS-2013-0037]
RIN 0579-AD78


Importation of Potatoes From Mexico

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are amending the regulations concerning the importation of 
fruits and vegetables to allow the importation of fresh potatoes 
(Solanum tuberosum L.) from Mexico into the United States. As a 
condition of entry, the potatoes must be produced in accordance with a 
systems approach employing a combination of mitigation measures to 
prevent the introduction and dissemination of plant pests into the 
United States. The potatoes must be imported in commercial 
consignments, must be produced by a grower who is registered in a 
certification program, must be packed in registered packinghouses, must 
be washed, cleaned, and treated with a sprout inhibitor, and must be 
inspected after packing for quarantine pests. The potatoes must also be 
accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that declares that the 
conditions for importation have been met. Finally, the national plant 
protection organization (NPPO) of Mexico must provide a bilateral 
workplan to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) that 
details the activities that the NPPO of Mexico will carry out to meet 
these requirements, subject to APHIS' approval. This action allows the 
importation of potatoes from Mexico while continuing to protect against 
the introduction of plant pests into the United States.

DATES: Effective Date: April 25, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. David Lamb, Regulatory Policy 
Specialist, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-
1231; (301) 851-2018.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The regulations in ``Subpart-Fruits and Vegetables'' (7 CFR 319.56-
1 through 319.56-64, 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.
    The national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Mexico 
requested that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 
amend the regulations to allow fresh potatoes from Mexico (Solanum 
tuberosum L.) to be imported into the United States.
    In response to that request, we prepared a pest risk assessment 
(PRA) and a risk management document (RMD). Based on the conclusions of 
the PRA and the RMD, on September 27, 2013, we published in the Federal 
Register (78 FR 59628-59632, Docket No. APHIS-2013-0037) a proposed 
rule \1\ to amend the regulations to authorize the importation of fresh 
potatoes from Mexico into the United States, provided that the potatoes 
were produced in accordance with a systems approach consisting of the 
following requirements: Production by a grower who is part of a 
certification program administered by the NPPO of Mexico; packing in 
packinghouses that are registered with the NPPO; post-harvest washing, 
cleaning, and treatment of the potatoes with a sprout inhibitor; 
inspection after packing for quarantine pests; issuance of a 
phytosanitary certificate; importation in commercial consignments only; 
and transport of the potatoes in a sealed means of conveyance from the 
packinghouse to the port of first arrival in the United States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To view the proposed rule, its supporting documents, or the 
comments that we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0037.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We solicited comments concerning our proposal for 60 days ending 
November 26, 2013. We received eight comments by that date. They were 
from a national organization that represents U.S. potato producers, a 
State organization that represents potato producers, a domestic potato 
producer, and private citizens. The comments that we received are 
discussed below, by topic.

General Comments on the Proposed Rule

    One commenter stated that APHIS should prohibit all fruits and 
vegetables from other countries from being imported into the United 
States. Another commenter stated that we should prohibit all potato 
imports.
    Such prohibitions would be beyond the scope of APHIS' statutory 
authority under the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq., 
referred to below as the PPA). Under the PPA, APHIS may prohibit the 
importation of a fruit or vegetable into the United States only if we 
determine that the prohibition is necessary in order to prevent the 
introduction or dissemination of a plant pest or noxious weed within 
the United States.
    Additionally, as a signatory to the World Trade Organization's 
Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), the 
United States has agreed that any prohibitions it places on the 
importation of fruits and vegetables will be based on scientific 
evidence, and will not be maintained without sufficient scientific 
evidence. The blanket prohibitions requested by the commenters would 
not be in keeping with this agreement.
    A commenter stated that the NPPO of Mexico cannot be trusted to 
abide by the provisions of the proposed rule.
    Like the United States, Mexico is also a signatory to the SPS 
Agreement. As such, it has agreed to respect the phytosanitary measures 
the United States imposes on the importation of plants and plant 
products from Mexico when the United States demonstrates the need to 
impose these measures in order to protect plant health within the 
United States. The PRA that accompanied the proposed rule provided 
evidence of such a need.
    A commenter expressed concern that the importation of potatoes from 
Mexico poses a high risk of introducing quarantine pests into the 
United States.
    For the reasons explained in the proposed rule, the RMD, and this 
final

[[Page 16652]]

rule, we consider the provisions of this final rule to adequately 
mitigate the risk associated with the importation of potatoes from 
Mexico.
    A commenter expressed concern that APHIS would not be able to 
enforce the provisions of the proposed rule.
    We are confident that we have sufficient personnel and resources to 
do so.

Comments Regarding the Pest Risk Assessment

    As we mentioned above, we prepared a PRA in response to the NPPO of 
Mexico's request that we authorize the importation of fresh potatoes 
from Mexico into the United States. The PRA listed all pests of 
potatoes known to exist in Mexico. The PRA also identified eight 
quarantine pests present in Mexico that could be introduced into the 
United States through the importation of fresh potatoes:
     Copitarsia decolora (Guen[eacute]e), a moth.
     Epicaerus cognatus Sharp, potato weevil.
     Nacobbus aberrans (Thorne) Thorne & Allen, false root-knot 
nematode.
     Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (Smith) Yabuuchi et 
al., a bacterium that causes brown rot of potato.
     Rosellinia bunodes (Berk. & Broome) Sacc., a pathogenic 
fungus.
     R. pepo Pat., a pathogenic fungus.
     Synchytrium endobioticum (Schilb.) Percival, a pathogenic 
fungus that causes potato wart disease.
     Thecaphora solani (Thirum. & M. O'Brien) Mordue, a 
pathogenic fungus that causes potato smut.
    The PRA determined that three of these eight pests--N. aberrans, R. 
solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, and S. endobioticum--pose a high risk of 
following the pathway of fresh potatoes from Mexico into the United 
States and having negative effects on U.S. agriculture. The remaining 
five pests--C. decolora, E. cognatus, R. bunodes, R. pepo, and T. 
solani--were rated as having a medium risk potential.
    A commenter stated that, because of the great number of pests of 
potatoes known to exist in Mexico, it is likely that there is a pest of 
potatoes in Mexico that APHIS is not aware of. Because of this 
possibility, the commenter suggested APHIS not finalize the proposed 
rule.
    The PRA that accompanied the proposed rule provided a list of all 
pests of potatoes known to exist in Mexico. This list was prepared 
using multiple data sources to ensure its completeness. For this same 
reason, we are confident it is accurate.
    If, however, a new pest of potatoes is detected in Mexico, APHIS 
will evaluate the pest to determine whether it is a quarantine pest, 
and whether it is likely to follow the pathway of potatoes from Mexico 
that are imported into the United States. If we determine that the pest 
is a quarantine pest and is likely to follow the pathway, we will take 
appropriate measures to prevent its introduction into the United 
States.
    A commenter stated that, in assigning a medium or high risk 
potential to the eight pests present in Mexico that could be introduced 
into the United States through the importation of potatoes from Mexico, 
the PRA had implied that potatoes from Mexico are a unique pathway for 
these pests, and that no other commodities from Mexico that are 
currently authorized importation into the United States are also hosts 
of any of the pests. The commenter stated that this is not the case, 
and the PRA was therefore in error.
    In assigning a medium or high risk potential to the pests, the PRA 
did not make such claims. Indeed, as we discuss later in this document, 
the PRA took into consideration that certain commodities already 
authorized importation into the United States from Mexico have similar 
pest lists.
    The same commenter stated that, since we already authorize the 
importation of Mexican commodities that are hosts of the quarantine 
pests identified by the PRA, and importation of these commodities has 
yet to result in the introduction of the pests into the United States, 
the PRA should not have evaluated those pests.
    It appears the commenter assumed that, if the pest list for one 
commodity from a foreign region is similar to the pest list for another 
commodity from that region, the risk associated with the importation of 
those commodities must likewise be similar. This is not the case. The 
former commodity may be the preferred host of the pests, while the 
latter is an alternate host; or the former commodity may be more likely 
to be imported into regions of the United States where the plant pests 
could become established or where the effects of such establishment on 
domestic agriculture would be more pronounced. Additionally, it appears 
that the commenter failed to take into consideration that many of the 
commodities from Mexico that are currently authorized importation into 
the United States may only be imported subject to certain mitigations, 
and that these mitigations may account for the absence of pest 
detections on those commodities.
    Accordingly, while we did take the absence of pest detections on 
commodities that are currently imported into the United States from 
Mexico into consideration in preparing the PRA, we disagree with the 
commenter's assertion that this absence should have precluded us from 
evaluating the eight quarantine pests that the PRA determined could be 
introduced into the United States through the importation of potatoes 
from Mexico.
    The same commenter suggested that, in assigning risk ratings to the 
eight quarantine pests, we did not take into consideration that all of 
the pests other than C. decolora were unlikely to survive if they 
accompanied a shipment of potatoes from Mexico to the United States, 
and that C. decolora infestations would be easy to detect at a port of 
entry.
    As we discussed in the PRA, we took those facts into consideration 
in assigning the ratings.
    The commenter also asserted that N. aberrans and R. solanacearum 
race 3 already are widely prevalent within the United States.
    The biotype of N. aberrans that is known to exist in the western 
United States parasitizes sugarbeets but does not parasitize potatoes. 
This biotype differs from the Central and South American biotype, which 
parasitizes potatoes and is a high-risk pest for that commodity. The 
biotype that the PRA examined is the latter, which is not known to 
exist in the United States.
    Additionally, while we agree that R. solanacearum race 3 does exist 
in the United States, the especially virulent biovar of R. solanacearum 
race 3, biovar 2, does not.

Comments Regarding Importation in Commercial Consignments

    We proposed that potatoes from Mexico must be imported in 
commercial consignments only.
    One commenter stated that this provision effectively precludes 
small-scale Mexican potato producers from exporting potatoes to the 
United States. The commenter asserted that large-scale producers were 
more likely to use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers on their 
crops, and pointed out that pesticide, herbicides, and fertilizers that 
are banned for use in the United States may be allowed in Mexico. The 
commenter expressed concern that potatoes that are imported from Mexico 
into the United States could contain residues of such pesticides, 
herbicides, or fertilizers, that these residues could present a human 
health risk to U.S.

[[Page 16653]]

consumers, and, if the residues entered a water reservoir, a plant 
health risk to domestic fruits and vegetables. The commenter suggested 
that, if we maintained the requirement that potatoes from Mexico must 
be imported in commercial consignments only, we needed to add an 
additional requirement stipulating that only herbicides, pesticides, 
and fertilizers that are approved by APHIS may be used on potatoes from 
Mexico that are exported to the United States.
    We do not agree with the commenter that the provision effectively 
precludes small-scale Mexican potato producers from exporting potatoes 
to the United States. As we mentioned in the preamble of the proposed 
rule, commercial consignments are defined in Sec.  319.56-2 of the 
regulations as consignments that an inspector identifies as having been 
imported for sale and distribution. This identification may be 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. Thus, a small-scale Mexican potato producer who 
packages, labels, or manifests shipments of potatoes to the United 
States in a manner that indicates the potatoes are for commercial sale 
would meet this provision.
    With respect to the commenter's concern regarding the use of 
unregulated pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, we note that the 
Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human 
Services regulates the pesticide, herbicide, and fertilizer residues 
that may be present on imported fruits and vegetables intended for 
human consumption.

Comments Regarding Producer Certification Program

    We proposed that potatoes from Mexico would have to be produced by 
a grower who is registered in a certification program administered by 
the NPPO of Mexico. We stated that the program would have to require 
the producer to use only seed that has been certified by the NPPO of 
Mexico as free of R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. bunodes, R. pepo, 
S. endobioticum, and T. solani to produce the potatoes. We also stated 
that the certification program would have to require the potatoes to be 
grown in an enclosed environment or alternatively would have to require 
the field in which the potatoes are grown to be surveyed for quarantine 
pests and tested for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 at regular 
intervals.
    One commenter stated that, by requiring producers to use only seed 
that has been certified by the NPPO of Mexico as free of R. 
solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. bunodes, R. pepo, S. endobioticum, and 
T. solani to produce the potatoes, we were effectively precluding 
crossbreeding of potatoes destined for export to the United States. The 
commenter contended that crossbreeding potatoes is necessary in order 
to prevent potatoes from becoming more susceptible to emerging plant 
pests and pathogenic fungi.
    The commenter provided no evidence suggesting that crossbreeding 
potatoes has such a prophylactic effect. In contrast, the evidence 
APHIS examined in preparing the RMD and the proposed rule suggested 
that R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. bunodes, R. pepo, S. 
endobioticum, and T. solani can all be borne by seed, and that this 
requirement is necessary in order to prevent the use of infected seed 
to produce potatoes destined for export to the United States.
    Another commenter stated that civil or political unrest in Mexico 
could preclude the NPPO from surveying a field for quarantine pests or 
testing it for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2.
    Such surveying and testing is a necessary component of the systems 
approach for potatoes that are not grown in an enclosed environment. If 
this surveying and testing does not occur, for whatever reason, 
potatoes from that field are not eligible for export to the United 
States until the surveying and testing resumes.

Comment Regarding Registered Packinghouses

    We proposed that potatoes from Mexico would have to be packed in 
packinghouses that are registered with the NPPO and to which the NPPO 
of Mexico has assigned a unique identifying number.
    A commenter asked whether a registered packinghouse could receive 
and pack potatoes from multiple producers at once, and to what degree 
APHIS would allow the packinghouse to commingle potatoes in such a 
manner.
    A packinghouse may receive and pack potatoes from multiple 
registered producers at once, nor does this rule place any restrictions 
on the degree to which the packinghouse may engage in such a practice.
    However, each consignment of potatoes from Mexico must be 
accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the NPPO of Mexico 
that specifies the number of the packinghouse in which the potatoes 
were packed. Additionally, if quarantine pests are discovered on 
potatoes from Mexico at a port of first arrival into the United States, 
the potatoes will be traced back to the packinghouse in which they were 
packed using the packinghouse number specified on the phytosanitary 
certificate. If the packinghouse cannot identify the grower from which 
the potatoes originated, the packinghouse will be suspended from the 
export program for potatoes to the United States for at least the 
remainder of the shipping season, and will continue to be suspended in 
subsequent seasons until APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico jointly agree 
that the plant pest risk at the packinghouse has been mitigated. We 
believe these provisions will deter packinghouses from indiscriminate 
commingling of potatoes.

Comment Regarding Post-Harvest Processing

    We proposed that, after harvest but prior to packing, the potatoes 
would have to be washed, cleaned of soil and debris, and treated with a 
sprout inhibitor. In the preamble of the proposed rule, we said that 
treatment with a sprout inhibitor was necessary because, once a potato 
has begun to sprout, it is propagative material that then can easily be 
used as a plant for planting.
    Two commenters asserted that the proposed rule suggested that any 
evidence of sprouting whatsoever makes a potato propagative material 
that can easily be used as a plant for planting. While agreeing that a 
sprouting potato is potentially a plant for planting, and, therefore, 
that treatment with a sprout inhibitor is a necessary mitigation, they 
also stated that such diversion is significantly more difficult than 
the proposed rule suggested it was.
    We agree that such diversion is not easy, and acknowledge that the 
proposed rule should not have suggested it is. As the commenters 
acknowledged, however, diversion is possible, especially if the 
potatoes are not treated with a sprout inhibitor.

Comments Regarding Post-Harvest Inspection

    We proposed that, after harvest but before packing, a biometric 
sample would have to be taken from each consignment of potatoes 
destined for export to the United States. We proposed that the sample 
would have to be visually inspected for evidence of sprouting, as well 
as evidence of C. decolora, E. cognatus, N. aberrans, R. bunodes, R. 
pepo, and T. solani. We also proposed to require a portion of the 
potatoes in the sample to be cut open, inspected for evidence of E. 
cognatus,

[[Page 16654]]

N. aberrans, R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, and T. solani, and 
submitted to a laboratory approved by the NPPO of Mexico for testing 
for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2. The potatoes could not be shipped 
to the United States until the results of this testing are obtained. If 
any of the potatoes are found to be sprouting, or any evidence of these 
quarantine pests is found, or any potatoes have non-negative test 
results for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, we proposed that the 
entire consignment of potatoes would be prohibited from importation 
into the United States.
    Two commenters requested that a potato that exhibits only ``peeps'' 
should not be considered to be sprouting. The commenters stated that 
``peeps'' are non-propagative, and that treatment with sprout 
inhibitors precludes their further development into propagative 
material.
    ``Peeps'' are potato buds that either lack sprouts, or that have 
nascent sprouts that have not yet become elongated. We consider a 
potato to be sprouting when it exhibits green sprouts, regardless of 
degree of elongation. Thus, a potato that exhibits only buds would not 
be considered to be sprouting, while a potato that exhibits both buds 
and green sprouts would.
    One commenter asked how many potatoes would be sampled from each 
consignment. The commenter expressed concern that some of the 
quarantine pests that could follow the pathway of potatoes into the 
United States could be difficult to detect if the sample size was 
small.
    The sample will be a biometric sample. In biometric sampling, a 
confidence level for pest freedom in a particular consignment is 
established, and the consignment is sampled at the rate needed to 
provide that level of confidence; in other words, the sample size has 
to be statistically relevant for purposes of claiming pest freedom for 
that particular consignment. As a result, in biometric sampling, lot 
size and sampling size are directly correlated.

Comment Regarding Sealed Means of Conveyance

    We proposed that each consignment of potatoes from Mexico would 
have to be shipped to the United States in a means of conveyance sealed 
with an agricultural seal affixed by an individual authorized by the 
NPPO of Mexico to do so.
    If the seal is broken en route, we proposed that an inspector at 
the port of first arrival would take remedial measures jointly agreed 
to by APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico and specified in the bilateral 
workplan. The proposed rule stated that the measures specified in the 
workplan would depend on whether the inspector determines the integrity 
of the consignment itself to have been compromised; if so, whether this 
compromise has resulted in the introduction of plant pests into the 
consignment during transit; and, if so, whether any of these pests are 
quarantine pests.
    One commenter stated that, if the agricultural seal for the means 
of conveyance is broken early on during transit to the United States, 
there could be a prolonged period of time where the means of conveyance 
is not adequately safeguarded and quarantine pests could be introduced 
into it. The commenter stated that, in such instances, there is a 
possibility that the means of conveyance could become so heavily 
infested with quarantine pests that it functions as a pathway for the 
dissemination of quarantine pests itself, regardless of whether the 
consignment of potatoes within the vehicle has become infested. The 
commenter asked what measures APHIS would take at a port of first 
arrival if the integrity of the consignment of potatoes is not 
compromised, but the vehicle carrying the potatoes is infested with 
quarantine pests.
    Pursuant to Section 7714 of the PPA, an inspector at a port of 
first arrival could hold, seize, quarantine, treat, apply other 
remedial measures to, destroy, or otherwise dispose of such a means of 
conveyance.

Comments Regarding Traceback Procedures

    We proposed traceback procedures if quarantine pests were 
discovered on potatoes from Mexico at a port of first arrival into the 
United States.
    In the event that this occurs, we stated that the potatoes would be 
traced back to the packinghouse in which they were packed using the 
packinghouse number specified on the phytosanitary certificate.
    The packinghouse would be required to identify the grower from 
which the potatoes originated, and the grower would be required to 
identify the place of production in which the potatoes were grown. That 
place of production would be suspended from the export program for 
potatoes to the United States for the remainder of the shipping season.
    If the grower is unable to identify the place of production in 
which the potatoes were grown, that grower would be suspended from the 
export program for the remainder of the shipping season.
    Finally, if the packinghouse is unable to identify the grower from 
which the potatoes originated, that packinghouse would be suspended 
from the export program for potatoes to the United States for the 
remainder of the shipping season.
    One commenter stated that these traceback procedures presuppose a 
highly integrated production system in which a packinghouses and 
producers work in conjunction and keep accurate records regarding 
potato production and incoming and outgoing shipments, and that this 
sort of integrated production system is unlikely to exist in Mexico.
    We agree with the comment that the traceback procedures presuppose 
that producers and packinghouses work in conjunction and keep accurate 
records regarding potato production and incoming and outgoing 
shipments. However, we disagree with the commenter's assertion that 
this sort of integrated production system is impracticable in Mexico. 
We believe that producers and packinghouses that assume the costs to 
participate in the export program for potatoes to the United States 
will be sufficiently motivated to keep records and share information to 
reduce the impact on their operations should a quarantine pest be 
detected on potatoes from Mexico at a port of first arrival in the 
United States.
    A commenter expressed concern that suspending a place of 
production, grower, or packinghouse from the export program for the 
remainder of a shipping season would not address the plant pest risk 
that led the grower or packinghouse to ship infested potatoes to the 
United States.
    We agree with the commenter. In this final rule, the place of 
production, grower, or packinghouse will be suspended from the export 
program for at least the remainder of the shipping season, and will 
continue to be suspended from the program in subsequent seasons until 
APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico jointly agree that the plant pest risk at 
the place of production, grower, or packinghouse has been adequately 
mitigated.

Miscellaneous

    In the proposed rule, we proposed to add the conditions governing 
the importation of potatoes from Mexico as Sec.  319.56-62. In this 
final rule, they are added as Sec.  319.56-66.
    In the proposed rule, we proposed that each consignment of potatoes 
shipped from Mexico to the United States would have to be accompanied 
by

[[Page 16655]]

a phytosanitary certificate, issued by the NPPO of Mexico, that states 
that the potatoes do not come from an area of Mexico regulated by the 
NPPO of Mexico for G. rostochiensis; have been produced from seed 
certified free of R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. bunodes, R. pepo, 
S. endobioticum, and T. solani; have been inspected for C. decolora, E. 
cognatus, N. aberrans, R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. bunodes, R. 
pepo, and T. solani; have been tested for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 
2; and based on this inspection and testing, have been found free of 
those pests.
    In reviewing our proposed rule in light of other sections of the 
regulations, we concluded that our proposed phytosanitary certificate 
requirement was significantly more prescriptive than most other 
phytosanitary certificate requirements for fruits and vegetables 
authorized importation into the United States. Typically, we require 
the phytosanitary certificate to state that the commodity has been 
produced in accordance with the regulations in that section, and has 
been inspected and found free of quarantine pests.
    For the sake of consistency with those other sections of the 
regulations, in this final rule, we are requiring that each consignment 
of potatoes shipped from Mexico to the United States be accompanied by 
a phytosanitary certificate, issued by the NPPO of Mexico, that states 
that the potatoes have been produced in accordance with Sec.  319.56-66 
and have been tested and inspected and found free of the quarantine 
pests listed in the introduction of the section.
    This change pertains merely to the statement on the phytosanitary 
certificate. It does not modify any of the other requirements of Sec.  
319.56-66. Nor does it affect a separate requirement that requires the 
phytosanitary certificate to specify the number of the packinghouse in 
which the potatoes were packed. As we mentioned earlier in this 
document, we consider that requirement to be necessary for the 
traceback procedures specified in the regulations to be effective.
    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.

Executive Order 12866 and Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final 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 
on the Regulations.gov Web site (see footnote 1 in this document for a 
link to Regulations.gov) or by contacting the person listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    This analysis examines the expected economic impact for U.S. small 
entities of a final rule that will allow the importation of potato 
tubers for consumption from Mexico into the United States. The Small 
Business Administration's small-entity standard for U.S. farms that 
produce potato tubers is annual receipts of not more than $750,000. In 
2007, the average market value of sales by the 15,014 U.S. farms that 
produced potatoes was about $222,000, well below the small-entity 
standard.
    In recent years, the United States has shifted from being a net 
importer to being a net exporter of fresh or chilled table potatoes. 
U.S. average annual domestic supply from 2008 to 2010 (marketed 
production plus imports minus exports) was about 16.6 million metric 
tons (MT). Mexico's average annual exports for the same years totaled 
about 1,500 MT. Even if all of Mexico's exports were diverted to the 
United States as a result of this final rule, they would be equivalent 
to less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of U.S. domestic supply.
    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

    This final rule allows fresh potatoes for consumption to be 
imported into the United States from Mexico. State and local laws and 
regulations regarding potatoes imported under this rule will be 
preempted while the potatoes are in foreign commerce. Fresh potatoes 
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 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 final rule, which were 
filed under 0579-0413, have been submitted for approval to the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB). When OMB notifies us of its decision, 
if approval is denied, we will publish a document in the Federal 
Register providing notice of what action we plan to take.

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. Section 319.56-66 is added to read as follows:


Sec.  319.56-66  Potatoes from Mexico.

    Fresh potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) may be imported into the 
United States from Mexico only under the conditions described in this 
section. These conditions are designed to prevent the introduction of 
the following quarantine pests: Copitarsia decolora (Guen[eacute]e), a 
moth; Epicaerus cognatus Sharp, potato weevil; Globodera rostochiensis, 
golden cyst nematode; Nacobbus aberrans (Thorne) Thorne & Allen, false 
root-knot nematode; Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (Smith) 
Yabuuchi et al., a bacterium that causes brown rot of potato; 
Rosellinia bunodes (Berk. & Broome) Sacc., a pathogenic fungus; R.

[[Page 16656]]

pepo Pat., a pathogenic fungus; Synchytrium endobioticum (Schilb.) 
Percival, a pathogenic fungus that causes potato wart disease; and 
Thecaphora solani (Thirum. & M. O'Brien) Mordue, a pathogenic fungus 
that causes potato smut.
    (a) The national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Mexico 
must provide a bilateral workplan to APHIS that details the activities 
that the NPPO of Mexico will, subject to APHIS' approval of the 
workplan, carry out to meet the requirements of this section. The 
bilateral workplan must include and describe the quarantine pest survey 
intervals and other specific requirements as set forth in this section.
    (b) The potatoes may be imported in commercial consignments only.
    (c) The potatoes must be produced by a grower who is registered in 
a certification program administered by the NPPO of Mexico. The program 
must require the producer to use only seed that has been certified by 
the NPPO of Mexico as free of R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, R. 
bunodes, R. pepo, S. endobioticum, and T. solani to produce the 
potatoes. The program must also require the potatoes to be grown in an 
enclosed environment or alternatively must require the field in which 
the potatoes are grown to be surveyed for quarantine pests and tested 
for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 at regular intervals in accordance 
with the bilateral workplan.
    (d) The potatoes must be packed for export in packinghouses that 
are registered with the NPPO of Mexico and to which the NPPO of Mexico 
has assigned a unique identifying number.
    (e) After harvest but prior to packing, the potatoes must be 
washed, cleaned of soil and debris, and treated with a sprout inhibitor 
in accordance with the bilateral workplan.
    (f) A biometric sample of potatoes must be taken from each 
consignment of potatoes destined for export to the United States in 
accordance with a protocol jointly agreed upon by APHIS and the NPPO of 
Mexico and specified within the bilateral workplan. The sample must be 
visually inspected for evidence of sprouting, as well as evidence of C. 
decolora, E. cognatus, N. aberrans, R. bunodes, R. pepo, and T. solani. 
A portion of the potatoes must then be cut open, inspected for evidence 
of E. cognatus, N. aberrans, R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, and T. 
solani, and submitted to a laboratory approved by the NPPO of Mexico 
for testing for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2. Potatoes may not be 
shipped to the United States until the results of this testing are 
obtained. If any potatoes are found to be sprouting, or any evidence of 
these quarantine pests is found, or any potatoes have non-negative test 
results for R. solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, the entire consignment of 
potatoes will be prohibited from importation into the United States. 
For purposes of this section, a potato is considered to be sprouting 
when it exhibits green sprouts, regardless of the degree of elongation 
of the sprout.
    (g) Each consignment of potatoes shipped from Mexico to the United 
States must be transported following inspection from the packinghouse 
to the port of first arrival into the United States in a means of 
conveyance sealed with an agricultural seal affixed by an individual 
authorized by the NPPO of Mexico to do so. If the seal is broken en 
route, an inspector at the port of first arrival will take remedial 
measures jointly agreed to by APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico and 
specified in the bilateral workplan.
    (h) Each consignment of potatoes shipped from Mexico to the United 
States must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate, issued by 
the NPPO of Mexico, that states that the potatoes have been produced in 
accordance with this section, and have been inspected and tested and 
found free of the quarantine pests listed in the introduction to this 
section. The phytosanitary certificate must also specify the number of 
the packinghouse in which the potatoes were packed.
    (i) If quarantine pests are discovered on potatoes from Mexico at a 
port of first arrival into the United States, the potatoes will be 
traced back to the packinghouse in which they were packed using the 
packinghouse number specified on the phytosanitary certificate.
    (1) The packinghouse must identify the grower from which the 
potatoes originated, and the grower must identify the place of 
production in which the potatoes were grown. That place of production 
will be suspended from the export program for potatoes to the United 
States for at least the remainder of the shipping season. The 
suspension will continue into subsequent shipping seasons until APHIS 
and the NPPO of Mexico jointly agree that the plant pest risk at the 
place of production is adequately mitigated.
    (2) If the grower is unable to identify the place of production in 
which the potatoes were grown, that grower will be suspended from the 
export program for potatoes to the United States for at least the 
remainder of the shipping season. The suspension will continue into 
subsequent shipping seasons until the APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico 
jointly agree that the plant pest risk at the grower is adequately 
mitigated.
    (3) If the packinghouse is unable to identify the grower from which 
the potatoes originated, that packinghouse will be suspended from the 
export program for potatoes to the United States for at least the 
remainder of the shipping season. The suspension will continue into 
subsequent shipping seasons until the APHIS and the NPPO of Mexico 
jointly agree that the plant pest risk at the packinghouse is 
adequately mitigated.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control 
number 0579-0413)

    Done in Washington, DC, this 20th day of March 2014.
Kevin Shea,
Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-06619 Filed 3-25-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P