National Plant Board
Plant Quarantine, Nursery Inspection, and Certification Guidelines
There are a number of mechanisms or tools available for use by governmental agencies to enforce quarantine and nursery regulatory program laws, regulations, and rules. This appendix identifies and describes the more important and useful of these enforcement mechanisms.
I. Compliance Agreements – Compliance agreements may be issued by a regulatory agency to a grower, packer, shipper or other private party. Compliance agreements identify what requirements must be met, when they must be met, and how they must be met; and the penalties for failure to comply. They may require that officials in the importing country or state be notified when each shipment is made. Compliance agreements are powerful tools when authorized by law and properly used. For example, California law provides specific authority for their use and makes failure to comply with the terms of a compliance agreement subject to a $10,000 civil penalty. A civil penalty of up to a specified limit may be assessed administratively by the regulatory agency.
II. Interagency Agreements – These agreements typically are contractual in nature, requiring performance on the part of one of the parties and payment or reimbursement on the part of the other.
III. Interstate Origin Inspection/Preclearance Agreements – These agreements are three-party agreements among the origin and destination state agencies and the commercial shipper. They are described in Appendix J.
The interstate origin inspection/preclearance agreements cited here and described in Appendix J are distinguished from preclearance programs that involve the performance of inspections just prior to shipment by regulatory officials of the importing country or state. While the latter form of preclearance is utilized, it is discouraged because it is very costly and, where the exporting country or state employs competent phytosanitary officials with a good record for credible phytosanitary certification, it is no more effective in mitigating pest risk. Furthermore, preclearance by officials of the importing country or state does not guarantee acceptance of the precleared commodity. Typically, shipments are held and inspected again at the port of arrival or terminal in the importing country or state and frequently rejected–sometimes on an arbitrary basis.
IV. Memoranda of Understanding – These documents often are prepared to describe programs, establish responsibility and accountability, outline procedures, establish guidelines, or set policy where more than one governmental agency is involved with program conduct. No funds are exchanged.
V. Permits – Many quarantines provide for the issuance of permits to allow such things as limited shipment of a prohibited commodity for a specific purpose (limited permit), movement of a restricted commodity under special conditions (research permit), alternative methods of certification (import permit), etc. Permits may be issued to individual shippers or a master permit may be issued by one state regulatory agency to another state regulatory agency to cover a number of shippers meeting specified conditions and terms.
VI. Policy, Guidelines, and Procedures – Quarantine and nursery regulatory agencies often develop and issue policies, guidelines, and procedures as educational tools and as a means of assuring consistency and uniformity and preventing arbitrary or capricious actions by their employees in the enforcement of established rules and requirements. Policies, guidelines, and procedures should not establish restrictions that function as “underground” regulations. Often these documents are compiled in the form of manuals which are distributed to the appropriate staff.