Rules tightened for southbound plants

Published on Thu, Jan 31, 2002
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Rules tightened for southbound plants

There will be a few more hoops to jump through for gardeners who want to buy their plants in Canada. New federal rules prohibit any live plants, bulbs and seeds from crossing the border without a bill of clean health.

In previous years bedding plants and tulip bulbs from Canada destined for the United States haven’t had to meet the same requirements as perennials and woody plants – examination by a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspector and a phytosanitary certificate. Now all plants from Canada will need to be inspected before they can cross the border.

Regulations requiring phytosanitary certificates for all plants are not new, but they’ve been selectively enforced where the risk of bringing in plant disease was minimal. Agriculture officials decided to harden up the rules based on a report from the National Plant Board that recommended more vigorous measures to keep offshore pests out of the U.S.

“What they’re trying to do is make all ports around the country consistent,” said United States Department of Agriculture inspector Wayne Stowell. “In the past we’ve made quite a number of allowances for Canada because they didn’t import that much plant material. Now they’re as cosmopolitan as we are and bring a lot of plants in from places like China and India.”

Gardeners who want their plants from Canada can make arrangements with CFIA at 604/666-2891 to inspect the plants, or buy from a nursery that makes arrangements for regular visits from the inspectors. The inspection fee from CFIA is CDN$12.35 for non-commercial shipments, Stowell said, and increased volumes could mean delays in getting the plants inspected. “It makes bringing a friend a chrysanthemum a little pricey.”..

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