USDA seeks changes to fruit, vegetable import reporting rules
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service proposes several changes to its fruit, vegetable and specialty crop import reporting requirements.
These changes would require that inspection certificates generated for each lot of imported commodities regulated under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act to include the entry number from the Customs and Border Protection forms that accompany the lot.
The USDA agency said that the entry number 'provides an efficient way to identify individual lots of commodities and to cross-reference all documents pertaining to each lot.
'If, for instance, a certain lot fails to meet import regulations when first presented, it may be reworked and presented for inspection a second time,' the agency added. 'The entry number is used to tie both the original and any succeeding inspections to that lot.'
The entry number also helps inspectors ensure that rejected lots aren't illegally diverted to other domestic markets.
Section 8e mandates that imports of certain agricultural commodities meet the same grade, size, quality or maturity requirements as those in effect for similar domestically produced commodities before entering the United States.
The proposed rule would require importers of exempt Section 8e-regulated imports, such as raisin, dried prunes and dates used for charitable activities or animal feed production, to report these exemptions through form FV-6 ' 'Importers' Exempt Commodity Form,' instead of using the current individual USDA forms for these exempt commodities.
The USDA said it uses the information from the forms to 'ensure that imported goods destined for exempt outlets are given no less favorable treatment than that afforded to domestic goods destined for such exempt outlets.'
The department is currently in the process of converting the four-part form FV-6 to an electronic format. 'It is expected that use of the electronic reporting system will reduce the time needed to complete and submit form FV-6,' the USDA said.
Industry comments regarding the proposed rules are due to the USDA by July 29. For more details, access the May 30 Federal Register notice at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-11924.htm.