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The recently passed Farm Bill, H.R. 2419, imposes a new reporting requirement on importers of plants and products made from plants. Applying to goods arriving in the U.S. on or after Nov. 24, 2008, it mandates that all importers of such products file a declaration containing three pieces of information: the scientific name of any plant contained in the shipment; the plant species' country of origin for harvesting, cutting, logging or removal; and a description of the value of the importation and quantity, including the unit of measure, of the product in question. Alan R. Klestadt and John A. Schoening, attorneys with the law firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP, noted, "the language of the new law is vague and will require clarification from the administering federal agencies." At the same time, they interpret the new rule as covering, with certain limited exceptions, "all members of the plant kingdom (e.g. plants, trees, etc.) and products constructed thereof, all 'regulated' and non-regulated plants and products constructed thereof, and both wild and artificially propagated (i.e., planted by man) plants and products constructed thereof." In the process, they said, the new declaration requirement significantly expands on the previous rule, which applied only to "regulated" plant species. Conceivably, the attorneys said, the new requirement could extend to all wood and paper products, including furniture, picture frames and paper stationery. Failure to comply could result in civil fines of up to $10,000, and criminal prosecution, along with suspension of licenses for the importation of plant products.
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