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The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is reducing regulations involving the approval of new imports of fresh fruits and vegetables into the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture instead is expanding a “notice-based” process for approving the imports, according to a release, which will reduce the time for approvals and allow regulatory resources to focus on other priorities.

“This action does not in any way compromise the rigor of APHIS’ analysis for potential plant pest risks, nor our safeguarding efforts,” according to the release.

The new rule becomes effective Oct. 15.

In the past, APHIS required both proposed and final rules to allow new commodities to enter the U.S., and each one required weeks of waiting times. In 2007, APHIS started to use the notice-based process on a limited basis, and since then, a number of commodities “have been safely introduced” into the U.S. with that procedure, according to the release.

Now, APHIS will announce the new fruit or vegetable and country of origin being imported, and publish the pest risk assessment in the Federal Register for public comment. APHIS will make a decision and announce it in the Federal Register.

APHIS will continue to assess how much of the commodity will be imported, and how that will affect U.S. growers of the commodity. The public can also comment on pest risk assessments, which will be available for review for at least 60 days after being published in the Federal Register, according to the release.

 
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