Crops and nursery stock headed to the European Union will soon face heightened regulatory scrutiny, requiring some growers to undergo phytosanitary inspections for the first time.
Exports of raw and minimally processed plant material will require phytosanitary certificates as of Dec. 14 to enter the EU’s 28 members states, as well as Switzerland and Montenegro, which follow the union’s plant health regulations.
Though many Oregon farmers who ship such crops as seed, apples and blueberries to the EU already obtain such certificates, the requirement may be unexpected for some niche growers who weren’t subject to these protocols, according to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
“We’re trying to get ahead of it so we’re not surprised on Dec. 15 when there are a bunch of rejections,” said Elizabeth Savory, manager of ODA’s plant health program.
“We don’t want anyone to get caught off guard by this,” said Chris Benemann, lead horticulturist with the agency’s nursery and Christmas tree program.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture doesn’t expect it will have to hire additional inspectors to cope with the added workload, but growers will likely need to schedule appointments ahead of time to ensure they’re available.
New EU phytosanitary requirements
The EU’s new phytosanitary requirements have been in the works for several years and predate recent trade issues with the U.S., so the measures aren’t a form of retaliation, aid Savory. “This is blanket for the whole world, it’s not specific to the United States.”
“They’re trying to protect their industries from things that come from other countries,” said Benemann, referring to various pests and diseases.
While the ODA expects that most seed from major grass species is already shipped to Europe with phytosanitary certificates, Oregon farmers also grow vegetable and flower seeds, often on a smaller scale.