All growers of hardy perennials will by now have heard of “new” pests such as Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) and the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). In fact, a quick look at the list of Pests Regulated by Canada (Plant Health Regulations, 29 2(a)) reveals about 230 or so such organisms (give or take a few duplications).
So, what do we do when faced with so many potential foreign health threats to our plants? Simple – we set up systems to try to stop their entry. Hence the above “regulations.”
Good so far.
Now, a new U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) regulation known as “NAPPRA” (Plants for Planting Not Authorized for Importations Pending Pest Risk Analysis) has significant potential for making exporting plant material to the U.S. much more difficult. NAPPRA’s aim is to reduce the number of invasive pests coming into North America. USDA-APHIS will publish lists of plants it considers are quarantine pests or are hosts of quarantine pests. The U.S. proposes to prohibit the entry of plants on its NAPPRA list, until risk assessments have been completed.
WHAT IS USDA DEFINITION OF ‘GROWN IN CANADA?’
But herein lies a problem. Although the regulations have been written, the definitions within those regulations have not. For instance, while practically everything grown in the U.S. and Canada is exempt, there is currently no USDA definition of “grown in Canada.” According to H.T.A. Landscape Ontario, “plants can never be from Canada if they were originally grown in a country where they would be prohibited entry into the U.S.”
Other questions still need to be answered to fully understand the impact that these regulations may have on Canadian growers.
So, with the clock ticking, what’s the answer before the regulations become effective?
The simple solution would be to get answers to all these questions before the regulations are implemented (in less than 12 months’ time). That depends on lots of discussion and negotiation, but it is possible. Of course, we might not get the answers we want to hear.
Another option is not to send plant material to the U.S., but obviously that’s not a reasonable route for any business with significant exports. According to the USDA, Canadian nursery products account for 50 per cent of all U.S. nursery imports, so there is clearly lots at stake and we’re not just going to stop sending plants to our American industry partners.
We could also produce fewer of the plants on the NAPPRA list. But we’re talking about 148 taxa altogether, so this, too, is unlikely.
We could, of course, just close the Canadian border to U.S. imports, but that is simply just unimaginable behaviour toward our largest trading partner.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR CANADIAN GROWERS?
CFIA is considering several options. The most simple is to harmonize Canada’s NAPPRA regulations with those of the U.S. The U.S. also needs to provide a definition of from when determining country of origin. The term needs to be defined to enable producers to provide appropriate traceability documentation, while understanding that many species have resided in Canada for a significant period of time. We must wish Bruce McTavish and his colleagues at the North American Plant Protection Organisation (NAPPO) all the best in upcoming negotiations.
This all begs the question about our (fill in your geographical region to suit – Canada, provincial, municipal) self-security with respect to ornamentals. Just as the “100-mile Diet” has affected people’s purchasing of food and drink, are we likely to see similar issues with respect to the perennials and flowers we enjoy growing?
For example, B.C. already has a thriving native plant species industry. Maybe NAPPRA is another spur towards another sector of horticulture thinking about “security” in a different light. What if – just if – 50 per cent of your market closed overnight? How would you fare? Just how secure are you when it comes to your customer base?
There are no easy answers, and most likely NAPPRA is not going to close the border to our plants so dramatically. But in the immediate term, there are lots of unanswered questions, and “plant security” is perhaps something we all need to think about.
Gary Jones is Chair of Production Horticulture at Kwantlen University, Langley, British Columbia. He sits on several industry committees and would welcome comments at
Inside View: November 2011
Subscription CentreNew Subscription Already a Subscriber Customer Service View Digital Magazine Renew
4 key differences between a cannabis greenhouse and an ornamental greenhouseWhen the legal industry began to emerge, indoor cannabis grow…
KPU secures major funding for hort researchA search for natural alternatives to pesticides is one of…
What’s in store at the Green Industry ShowThe 2018 Green Industry Show & Conference (GISC) is just…
A different light for ornamental grassesStarting a decade ago, researchers focused on the potential of…
Green Industry Show 2018Thu Nov 15, 2018
Poinsettia Open HouseTue Nov 20, 2018 @10:00am - 02:30pm
Farm Energy WorkshopSat Nov 24, 2018
HortEastTue Nov 27, 2018
Great Lakes Expo 2018Tue Dec 04, 2018 @ 8:00am - 05:00pm