The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is authorizing importation of five commodities of fresh pepper fruit from Colombia into the continental United States. The commodities are Capsicum annuum (Pepper, Bell); C. baccatum (Pepper, Locoto); C. chinense (Pepper, Habanero); C. frutescens (Pepper, Tabasco); and C. pubescens (Pepper, Manzano). These commodities will be imported using a systems approach that includes safeguarding measures across the production continuum that growers, packers, and shippers put in place to minimize the risk of introducing plant pests into the United States. APHIS published a pest risk analysis evaluating the risks associated with importing fresh pepper fruit from Colombia into the continental United States in May 2019. Based on the pest risk assessment, APHIS experts determined that fresh pepper fruit from Colombia can be safely imported into the United States using the designated phytosanitary measures outlined in the systems approach. Protective measures to mitigate risk during importation require that places where the pepper fruit is grown (inside pest exclusionary structures) must be registered with Colombia’s national plant protection organization; production locations must use approved pest trapping measures and those locations must be monitored; places of production must be inspected prior to harvesting; peppers must be packed within 24 hours of harvest using insect-proof materials; and, imports must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate stating that the consignment was inspected and found free of quarantine pests. Colombia will also have to enter into an operational work plan with APHIS that spells out the daily procedures its national plant protection organization and growers will take to implement the protective measures identified. This authorization will go into effect when it is published in the Federal Register on March 25, 2021. To view the notice, PRA, risk management document, economic evaluation assessment, and the comments that we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and enter APHIS-2018-0025 in the Search field.
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