SAF Congressional Action Days

March 11-12, 2013

SAF Government Relations Department:
  • Corey Connors
  • Brian Gamberini

  • SAF Legislative Action Center

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    October 12, 2012

    Chrysanthemum White Rust: You Can Still Comment!

    It is very important that USDA hear from the industry on this issue!  The deadline for comments on the “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” for chrysanthemum white rust (CWR) has been extended until November 1, 2012, at our request. Growers – and anyone else who is interested – still have time to comment! Click here to see the actual proposal, which is summarized below.

    Go here to submit comments – you can either make direct comments at that site, or upload a word or pdf document you have previously prepared.

    The Four Options Proposed - And Another Possibility:

    APHIS asks for comments on four different concepts, outlined below. In addition, APHIS has other regulatory tools available to restrict or alter the importation of mums, of which you should be aware even though they are not mentioned in the current Notice. Even if APHIS chooses one of the 4 options, one of the other regulatory tools, NAPPRA, which is also described below, could be used to put into place new restrictions for pests other than CWR on imported mums. Thus, there is a potential combination of tools of which you should be aware. You may, of course, comment on the NAPPRA option even though it has not yet been formally proposed.

    Option 1. Continue to manage CWR as a quarantine pest – no changes to the current program.

    Option 2. Designate CWR as a “Regulated Non-Quarantine Pest.” (RNQP)
     This option would require regulation of propagation facilities both inside the U.S. and any propagation facilities outside the U.S. wishing to export cuttings to the U.S. Under this option, cut flowers would be deregulated completely with respect to CWR; regulated non-quarantine pest status covers only plants for planting.

    Option 3. Allow individual states to establish “Official Control” but otherwise deregulate CWR. This option would mean that a state that wanted to establish an official control program could do so – surveying to prove that CWR does not exist in the state, setting up and enforcing its own control program with periodic nursery inspections. Obviously, this would be a very complex and difficult situation to manage.

    Option 4. Completely remove the CWR quarantine restrictions. Removing the CWR quarantine restrictions would apply to cuttings and to cut flowers.

    What Is The Additional Action Being Considered?

    APHIS could choose one of those four options and also propose, in a separate process, that chrysanthemums be added to the “NAPPRA” (“Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis”) list. The current regulations only address the risk of CWR – are there other pests that could come in with mums if the CWR quarantine is dropped or modified? NAPPRA could theoretically be applied in conjunction with any of the four options mentioned in the current Notice.

    • The NAPPRA (“Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis”) process is part of APHIS’ revision of the Quarantine-37 regulations.  Periodically, APHIS publishes lists of plant species for public comment -- once a species is “on the NAPPRA list” it cannot enter the U.S. until APHIS has completed a “Pest Risk Analysis” so that mitigations or some kind of certification program can, if appropriate, be proposed. The Analysis could be done just for countries most likely to send mums to the U.S., and would take, at a minimum, several months to complete. The NAPPRA list restrictions could apply to both cut flowers and propagative material, depending on the pest(s) of concern at the time the species is added to the NAPPRA list.

    • Even if mums are included on the NAPPRA list, the current regulations would have to be changed to allow import of cuttings in commercial quantities.

    The bottom line is that either under three of the four options proposed in the ANPR or under NAPPRA restrictions for chrysanthemums, APHIS could move to allow mums to come in from certain countries, probably under some kind of best management practices. The RNQP option would require domestic producers to produce under some kind of equivalent best management practices and would not address cut flowers. The NAPPRA option could address both cuttings and cut flowers. Either option would require some further action on APHIS’ part in setting up or approving production practices.

    For more information, contact Lin Schmale,

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    Deficit Spending Slows Due to Revenue Increase, Spending Cuts

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently issued its annual financial report on FY2012 for the federal government. CBO estimated that the federal budget deficit for the year was about $1.1 trillion, approximately $200 billion lower than the shortfall recorded in 2011. The estimated deficit is $38 billion below what CBO projected in its August Budget and Economic Outlook, because revenues were higher and outlays were lower than expected near the end of the fiscal year.

    The FY2012 deficit was equal to 7.0 percent of gross domestic product, CBO estimates, down from 8.7 percent in 2011, 9.0 percent in 2010, and 10.1 percent in 2009, but greater than in any other year since 1947. Federal receipts in FY2012 totaled $2.5 trillion, up $148 billion from FY2011. This growth in receipts, usually a sign of economic recovery, was due in part to growth in corporate income tax receipts and a rise in individual income receipts due to wage and salary growth.

    Spending also decreased modestly. Outlays in fiscal year 2012 totaled $3.5 trillion, $59 billion (or 1.6 percent) less than spending in the same period last year. The primary decreases in federal spending outlays were for: Medicaid, unemployment benefits, defense and education spending.

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    Remember Ralstonia? There’s good news and bad news…

    As a result of the unique, and widely praised, geranium cuttings certification program developed by SAF and the geranium producers with USDA, we have seen no further quarantines. But the industry’s good work, and the continued research efforts of some world-renowned scientists -- In part funded through the Floriculture & Nursery Research Initiative -- continue, as we attempt to put this problem into its proper scientific perspective.

    So what’s the bad news?

    The newly revised, and long-awaited, final list of “Select Agents” was published October 5, and continues to include Ralstonia solanacearum, race 3, biovar 2 (R3B2) as a Select Agent, despite SAF’s comments and the research results submitted by six of the world’s leading experts on the disease.

    SAF’s formal comments noted that “valuable research on the disease, potential pathways of transmittal, survival in field situations, potential tests for the pathogen, and ways of eliminating the pathogen is significantly hindered, because of the additional biosecurity requirements for researchers imposed as a result of the [Select Agent] classification.” This means that even though another outbreak could occur, the "Select Agent" classification makes it much more difficult and expensive for researchers to conduct the research necessary to combat the disease.

    Whether or not Ralstonia is considered a “Select Agent,” it will remain on the U.S. quarantine list, and any introductions would trigger USDA and the states to take eradication and control action. But in the aftermath of 9/11, Congress passed the “Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act” – and that act requires listing both plant and animal diseases (“Select Agents”) which, in the Federal government’s opinion, could “pose a severe threat to animal or plant health” or could be deliberately misused with potential for “mass casualties or devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure, or public confidence.” Ralstonia, Race 3, Biovar 2, has been on the Select Agent list since its beginning – but along with other diseases like soybean rust and citrus greening, which have subsequently been dropped from the list.

    “The comments that SAF submitted on this proposal, not to mention the comments of leading U.S. researchers, were disregarded or rejected,” says SAF’s Lin Schmale. “We believe that the process lacks transparency and that the science we presented was not, in fact, adequately or objectively addressed.”

    In addition to Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3 Biovar 2, the list includes animal diseases which are, indeed, potential terrorist weapons of concern (anthrax, for instance). However, privately many believe that the plant diseases on the list are already quarantine-significant, and could equally well be addressed through normal quarantine and eradication procedures.

    “We will continue to support research on this important disease, and we will continue to support the certification program,” Schmale notes. “But we will also continue to try to work with USDA to try understand why the science we presented was not addressed in their decisionmaking process.”

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