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USDA drops prenotification requirement for most growers

As of this past Monday, most Oregon growers are no longer required to notify receiving states when shipments go out containing any of five high-risk genera for Phytophthora ramorum.

Under the new rule, the only West Coast nurseries that must prenotify for the five high-risk genera are those that have tested positive for P. ramorum since 2010, and those located in quarantined counties. There are 14 quarantined counties in California, but just one — Curry County — in Oregon.

The rule change came as the result of persistent and effective lobbying by OAN leaders and staff members. Officials with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) were convinced to review the rule.

“The review findings indicated that advance notification in its current form did not meet the stated goals of providing the states with sufficient information to allow them to prioritize resources and assure rapid response,” stated Rebecca Bech, deputy administrator for APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine, in an announcement issued by USDA. “These changes will enable APHIS and state regulatory agencies to focus resources on nurseries in high-risk quarantine areas and those where P. ramorum has been detected.”

The revised rule is expected to free many Oregon growers from a paperwork burden that was costing them time and money, without improving the safety of interstate plant shipments or the effectiveness of federal regulators. According to an OAN estiamte, only about a dozen Oregon growers will now be subject to the requirement.

Nurseries that test positive for P. ramorum in the last three years will remain subject to the requirement until they test clean for three years. Then it will be lifted. USDA is developing mitigation techniques for those nurseries that test positive.

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