Earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture released a statement calling for feedback on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) online portal to simplify the flow of information on requirements for imported agricultural goods into the US.
On the USDA website, APHIS is described as:
“APHIS plays a vital role in ensuring the free flow of agricultural trade by keeping U.S. agricultural industries free from pests and diseases and certifying that the millions of U.S. agricultural and food products shipped to markets abroad meet the importing countries’ entry requirements.
APHIS makes sure that all imported agricultural products shipped to the United States from abroad meet the Agency’s entry requirements to exclude pests and diseases of agriculture.”
Meet the Agricultural Commodity Import Requirements (ACIR) online portal. Importers can hop online and use the portal to identify the requirements that they must meet based on the type of goods. The agricultural imports are broken down into 7 key categories:
- Plants for Planting and Propagation*
- Plants and Plant Products Not for Propagation
- Animal Products and Byproducts
- Soil and Soil Amendments
- Treatments (Phytosanitary treatments for quarantine-significant plant pests on imported and domestic commodities)
- Procedure (Guidance for port operations, including phytosanitary treatments; some information may be accessible to internal users only)
- Other Items (Tools, materials, or machinery that can act as carriers for pests, including vehicles, containers, bags, packing materials, and other similar articles)
You can also research based on different groups, by crop group, port group, and regions. Importers that visit the site will note that there is still some information missing, but, as mentioned in the USDA statement, the tool is expected to be completed in the fiscal year 2022.
The intention is that this tool will ultimately replace the USDA Reference Manuals, along with an amalgamation of other information. (For reference, you may find the manuals here.)
The USDA is confident that this will streamline processes for agricultural importing, for customs officers and trade professionals alike. They state the following benefits for the various involved stakeholders:
APHIS’ ACIR stakeholders benefits include:
- A user-friendly search tool for commodity import information.
- All relevant import requirements for a given commodity are presented in one place.
- Self-service responses to entry requirement questions.
Importers will be able to refer back to ACIR to determine whether they need to apply for a permit or not, based on the types of goods they wish to move into the US. The electronic filing system (eFile) for permits, licensing, and registration will use the import requirement data as stipulated on ACIR in order to process plant and plant product permit applications.
As of now, APHIS is in the stage of asking for feedback on ACIR from importers., as they are currently in beta-testing mode for the first module: Plants and Plant Products not For Propagation. The feedback provided by users will be incredibly useful in improving the user experience and functionality of the tool as they continue to build it into 2022.
Importers may provide feedback here.
If you have any questions about how to navigate this new system, or about moving agricultural goods into the US in general, contact us here!