Public comments allowed on deregulation of potato fields

Public comments allowed on deregulation of potato fields

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to allow public comments on its process for deregulating fields previously infested with pale cyst nematode.

According to a news release from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the changes would make the field deregulation process more transparent by giving the public the opportunity to participate in its development.

The pale cyst nematode is a major pest of potato crops and was discovered in Idaho in 2006. The USDA issued an interim rule in 2007 that established a quarantine and restricted the interstate movement of potatoes and other regulated articles from the quarantined areas.

The interim rule included a three-year biosurvey protocol that would allow a previously infested field to be removed from quarantine, according to the release.

In 2009, APHIS published a final rule that included the three-year biosurvey but did not preclude the use of other protocols for determining when an infested field could be removed from quarantine. APHIS also stated it would continue to solicit stakeholder input as it developed the field removal protocol.

Under this proposed rule, APHIS would first announce any substantive changes to the field deregulation protocols in a Federal Register notice and solicit comments. Comments will be accepted on the proposal until May 3 at