USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Stakeholder Registry announcement extending the public comment on two pathway risk assessments and three potential regulatory policy options for Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) in fresh tomato and pepper fruit for consumption and plant propagative material (including seeds). The public will have an extra 30 days to provide comments to the documents in response to requests to extend the comment period beyond August 30, 2023. APHIS will now consider all comments received by September 29, 2023.
To safeguard U.S. agriculture against the introduction of the virus into the United States, APHIS issued a Federal Order effective on November 22, 2019, to restrict the importation of tomato and pepper fruit and plant propagative material, such as plants intended for planting, plant parts and cuttings, and seeds. On June 3, 2020, APHIS amended the Federal Order to clarify the requirements for fruit, specifically requiring an additional declaration for tomatoes and/or pepper fruit from countries that already must provide a phytosanitary certificate for these commodities. All other requirements remained unchanged.
The distribution of ToBRFV is rapidly changing across the world and given numerous detections of the virus in the United States over the past several years, APHIS is reevaluating the Agency’s policies for regulating fresh tomato and pepper fruit for consumption and plant propagative material (including seeds) for ToBRFV.
APHIS developed pathway risk assessments to update and inform its policy decisions related to the virus. APHIS drafted the following documents: (1) a tomato and pepper fruit for consumption pathway risk assessment, (2) a propagative plant materials pathway risk assessment, and (3) a document that describes three potential regulatory responses considering the pathway risk assessments.
APHIS is seeking scientific information that would provide a greater understanding of the distribution of ToBRFV in the United States and of best management practices, including the development of resistant tomato varieties for this virus. APHIS is also seeking information about the economic impacts of the potential regulatory options.
APHIS is considering three regulatory policy options:
- Continue to regulate Tomato brown rugose fruit virus as a quarantine pest but remove those import restrictions for tomato and pepper fruit for consumption. APHIS would continue to regulate propagative materials, including plants and seed, as described in the existing import Federal Order. APHIS would continue to take action on domestic detections of the virus in seeds and other propagative material.
- Categorize Tomato brown rugose fruit virus as a non-quarantine pest and rescind the import Federal Order. This action would remove all import restrictions for this virus for fruit for consumption and for propagative materials. APHIS would no longer take action on domestic detections of the virus.
- Continue to regulate Tomato brown rugose fruit virus as a quarantine pest and implement the requirements in the existing import Federal Order without change. APHIS would continue to take action on domestic detections of the virus in fruit, seeds and other propagative material for consumption.
APHIS will accept public feedback of the documents on the Stakeholder Risk Assessment Consultation web page: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant-health/risk-assessment-consultation.
The current ToBRFV Federal Order is available on APHIS’ website here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth/import-information/federal-import-orders/. If you have any questions, please direct them to PPQPRAComments@usda.gov; please indicate ToBRFV in the subject line.