APHIS Continues To Implement Risk-based Sampling at Additional Plant Inspection Stations

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On August 4, 2014, APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) will continue the implementation of risk-based sampling on shipments of plants for planting at the following plant inspection stations:


Seattle, Washington

Los Angeles (City of El Segundo), California

Atlanta, Georgia

Jamaica, New York

Miami, Florida (air cargo)


On September 2, 2014, APHIS PPQ will implement risk-based sampling on shipments of plants at the following plant inspection stations:


Los Indios, Texas

Miami, Florida (maritime cargo)

San Francisco, California (air cargo)


APHIS-PPQ will use sampling rates and methods that consider input from affected industries to minimize adverse effects on commerce. This new inspection protocol will provide data to improve our understanding of the highest risk plants entering the United States, which will allow us to focus our efforts to safeguard U.S. agriculture and the environment from the introduction of harmful plant pests and diseases. This information will also help in expediting the inspection process of low-risk plants entering the United States. APHIS-PPQ will adjust operational procedures as needed prior to implementation at other plant inspection stations.


Background. Risk-based sampling is intended to be a statistically-supported and effective sampling method that accounts for the level of pest risk in a plant shipment. APHIS-PPQ has reviewed the sampling tool formulas and made adjustments that allow for effective sampling while reducing the impact on industry. The protocol is based on the hypergeometric probability distribution, which determines the probability of finding a pest within a certain number of independent samples from a shipment. The new protocol calculates the number of sample units (such as bags, boxes, or crates) an APHIS inspector should select from each shipment.


Actions. To better safeguard against the introduction and spread of invasive plant pests and diseases, APHIS-PPQ will expand the new risk-based sampling protocol to inspect shipments of imported propagative plant materials at these plant inspection stations.  Risk-based sampling was implemented at plant inspection stations in New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Texas on October 1, 2013.  On February 17, 2014, risk based sampling was implemented in plant inspection stations in Maryland, Florida (Orlando), Arizona, and California (San Diego).  This protocol will maximize inspection effectiveness by incorporating a statistically robust approach to sampling imports brought through these locations. All plants for planting will be sampled at a rate that will provide sufficient data to evaluate the level of risk. The categorization of risk will be revised regularly in response to data from all inspections. This will allow APHIS-PPQ to more effectively focus resources towards plant species that pose the greatest risk. APHIS-PPQ will be expanding risk-based sampling in the coming months, utilizing the incremental implementation to minimize delay of imports.


Risk-based sampling will require more time to inspect some shipments. More samples may be inspected at the discretion of the APHIS inspector. To expedite the process, importers should ensure that an adequate number of staff is available to unload sample units for inspection. APHIS inspectors do not provide loading or unloading services. When quarantine action pests are detected on a commingled shipment, the entire shipment is subject to action required. APHIS is committed to providing the necessary number of inspectors to avoid any delays associated with the implementation of the new sampling protocol.


For more information, please call or write:


Calvin Shuler, Director of Exclusion and Imports

APHIS-PPQ Field Operations

Telephone: 919-855-7326

E-mail: Calvin.Shuler@aphis.usda.gov