The plant quarantine act and quarantine no. 37


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The plant quarantine act and quarantine no. 37
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Strong, Lee A
United States -- Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine
American Association of Economic Entomologists
United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine ( Washington, D.C )
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aleph - 030261918
oclc - 778372709
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E-461 1113 XR December, 193d

q TEX1 -tates Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Entomology and Plant quarantine

THE PLANT <2UAilANTIFE ACT A.: F i "JA.. 21" "0. 37

By Lee A. Strong, Chief of Eureau

Over a period of some 20 years there has been so iuch prominence
given to Quarantine 37 that the fact is almost al.'-ys completely
disre-arded that the plant cuerantines placed by the United States
Department of !-riculture must be placed under authority of the Plant
Quarantine Act passed by Congress more than 26 years aso. Jhe,: any
change is made or suggested in nursery stock iirort requirements there
ir.variably comes a flood of telegrans anc petitions, all sayir.-. the same
thin,;- in just about the sane words: maintain n -.uarantine 1o. 37 as is."'
In general, these demands come from certain groups interested in some
one class of nurs ry stock. 'ihe-y could not come fro n pe-ple nmiar
with Quarantine 57 because such people vrould not want <,uaran'cine 57
mu intrained as is. II they were really inter-stced in keeping, the
country free of pbsts they would want Quan "ntine 37 chan-ged. Yot
only that, they would i'ant the plantt .-uarantine oAct so changed as to
insure as nearly as such thi.: "s can be that plant Lests be kept out.

Section 1 of the Plant quarantine Act provides "that it shall be
unlawful for any person to -fer for entry into the United States P.ny
nursery stock unless and until a perUit shall have been issued thereLor
by the Secretary of PAriculture under such conditions -nd r,'(tIn. as
the said Sc-retary of fAriculture may prescribe.' Please note that
this applies only to nursery tock.

Section 6 provides "that for the purpose of this act the ter-n
'nursery, stock' shall include all field-,ro-m florists' stock, trees,
shrubs, vines, cuttings, grafts, scions, buds, fruit nits, and other
seeds of fruit and ornamental trees or shrubs, and other plants nnd
plant products for prcr--s "tion, except field, ve-, and flower
seeds, bedding plants, and other herbaceous plants, bulbs, and roots."
Hcv.e'er, therj is another section which authorizes the Secretary by
promulgation to brin- other plants and plant products for propagation
under the term "nurse-ry stock."

Section 7 provides "that whenever, in order to prevent the
introduction into the United States of any tree, plant, or fruit
disease or of any injurious insect, new to or not theretofore widely
prevalent or distributed within and throughout the United States,

?Address civen before Secticn of Plant ,uarantine and Inspection,
American Association of Lccnornic Entomologists, meeting at Richnond,
Va., December 29, 195.-


the Secretary of Agriculture shall determine that it is necessary to
forbid the importation into the United States of any class of nursery
stock or of any other class of plants, fruits, vegetables, roots, bulbs,
seeds, or other plant products from a country or locality where such
disease or insect infestation exists, he shall promulgate such determination,
specifying the country and locality and the class of nurs-ry stock or
other class of plants, fruits, vegetables, roots, bulbs, seeds, or oth-r
plant products which, in his opinion, should be excluded. Following the
promulgation of such determination by the Secretary of Agriculture, and
until the withdrawal of the promulgation by him, the importation of
the class of nursery stock or of other class of plants, fruits, vegetables,
roots, bulbs, seeds, or othor plant products specified in the said
promulgation from thr country and locaplity therein named, r'gIrdless of
th" u>< for which the same is intended, is hereby prohibited."

There are two features of this section to b- especially noted:
First, it does not cover all injurious pests but only those new to or
not theretofore widely prevalent or distributed within and throughout
the United States. Second, it is not the Secretary's determination thnt
excludes the articles specified; he is authorized merely to determine
that their exclusion is necessary and to promule.-te that determination
and then th- Act of Congross excludes them. None of the products so
specified is eligible for importation, even under restriction.

It will be noted in all these Plant Quarantine Act sections th.-t
jurisdiction of the Secretary extends only to nurse-ry stock as defined
except where other plants and plant products not defined as nursery
stock may be consider-d dangerous, such plants and plpnt products may
by promulgation of the Secretary be brought under his jurisdiction as
nursery stock as contemplated in the Plant Quara-ntine Act. However,
in no case does the jurisdiction extend beyond nursery stock.

We are informed by legr.l authorities that Section 1 means that
from countries where official inspection exists a permit must be issued
by the Secretary for nursery stock when requested. The Secrtary can
prescribe conditions and r-gul-otions providing thet the nursery stook
must be free of insect pests and plant diseases and subject to departmental
inspection to determine whether or not th~y are so free, but the permit
must be issued.

Section 7 means that when the Spcr-tary has promulgated his
determination thereunder to the effect that the nursery stock or other
plant products are likely to introdu-e into the United States any tree,
pl.nt, or fruit disease or any injurious insect new to or not theretofore
widely prevalent and distributed within and throughout the United States

that thereafter all such nursery stock and oth:'r planr.t products arc
dcfinitcly excluded entirely alid can not be imported for any purpose
under any conditions except by the; D apartment for cxperimcntal or
scientific purposes. In this case we arc advised that it is not the
Sccrcary's detcr-ainations that oxclu&d: the article sp-cified, that he
is authorized me-rely to dctcrrninc.'th.t their exclusion is nccessary
%(v. to promulgate that determination and then the Act of Congress, the
Flan x tuarantinv. Act, excludes them. 1,ihatcv:r authority ther in in
th.- Plant Quarantine Act, I aui advised, touching regulations governing
the importation of nursery stock, is found in Section 1. A careful
consideration of this section vdll show that it authorizes th. Secretary
only to prescribe conditions and regulations gov rning the issuance of
permits for the importation, and inasmuch .s it provides that the
Secretary shall iPsua thy. permits for any particular importation of nursery
stock when the importer sh-1ll have complied with such conditions and
regulations, it would s7-m to rollo.i that the "conditions cnd regulations"
must operate on and be connected with matte rs and thin-s bearing on such
importation b.fore. thr nursc'ry stock is actually admitted. Apparently,
the law does not sC.ek to control or enforce. any restrictions on nursery
stock after its entry other than the provisions of Sections 2 and 4( which
relate only to their subsequent interstate mriovement. Therefore, any
conditions attached to the issur.nce of the permit to which the importer
would asse.nt requiring him to do certain thin's in connection with the
propagation of nursery stock subsequent to its entry, would make the
trans-ction one of contract, a breach of which would not constitute a
violation of the statute. Th.rcefor.,, the opinion is given that regula-
tions made by the Secretaryr purportir c to control nursery stock subse-
quent to its entry arc 1 lly unenforceable.

On Lcvember 18, 1918, the S'cretary of Agricultur: promulgated the
following determination under Notice of Quarantine Wo. 57:

"The fact has been determined by the S-cretary of
Agriculture, and notice is hereby givan, thaot there exist
in Europe, Asia, Africa, 1..xico, Ce.ntral and South America,
and other foreign countries a.nd localities certain injurious
insects and fungous diseases new to and not h.ertofore widely
distributed within and throughout the United Statoes, which
affect and are carried by nursery stock and other plants and
scuds, the words 'nursery stock and oth;r plants and scds,'
including, wherever used in this notice and the rules and
regulations supplemental hereto, field-.rcvm florists' stock,
trees, shrubs, vinos, cuttings, grafts, scions, buds, fruit
pits and other seeds of fruit and ornamental trees or shrubs,
also field, vegetable, and flower seeds, bedding plants, and
other herbaceous plants, bulbs, and roots, and other plants
and plant products, for, or capable, of propagation.
"Now, therefore, I, D. F. Houston, Secretary of Agriculture,
under the authority conferred by the Act of Congress approved
August 20, 1912 (37 Stat. 315), do hereby declare that it is
necessary in order to prevent the further introduction into

the United States of injurious insect pests and fungous
diseases, to forbid, except as provided in thc rules and
regulations supplemental her-to, the importation into the
United States of nursery stock and other plants and seeds
from thu foreign countries and localities named and from
any other f'crein locality or country.
"On and rfter Juno 1, 1919, end until further notice,
by virtue of act of' Congress rpprovwd August 20, 1912,
the importi.tion of nursery stock and other plants and soeds
from thu abc\ rn.-mcd ard all other foreign country s and
localities, ..jxcupt as provided in the rules and regulations
supplemental h.erto, is prohibited."

Under this pro-.uuL ation, in aceordranc with the le, el interpretation
we have received of the Pla.nt qu-arx.ntinc Act, all nursery stock fro.a the
countries of Europ., Asia, Pf.rice, ivlxico, Contral and. South Anirica and
other foreign countri- s r-nd localities would hcve been definitely,
completely and finally excluded for -ny purpose by the Plant Quarantine
Act itself. Howev .r, rwru lations were s:t up under the quarantine
which provided that curtain clx-ssus of nursery -tock and other plants
and plant products vould bo exempted fron th.: quarantin.- pi'o'iuli7.tion.
Among those were certain clss,s of bulbs, fruit stock, rose stocks,
nuts, rnd certain classes of sceds. Provision was mado for entry in
limited quantities, on the cth'r hrmand, froxi all these countries for
numerous gene(ra rnd species of plants. Provision was made in prractico,
at least, for holding the i.r crtcd plants in detention for a period of
two years for propagation purposes only although th, authority for such
practice does not rppiar clearly in the- quarantine; and does not appear.
at all in the Plant 4uarcntine Act.

Quarantine 37 vttenpts to do those things which should be done
by legislative enactment and really places the Department in the
position of legislating on things that are considered desirable or
necessary in nursery stoqk and plant importations. 'Vihen this is done
in many cases first consideration is likely to bo economic consideration
and this may bring the D;opartmn.nt into the trade protection field and in
many instances entirely out of the quarantine field.

Acting on the theory that to reduce the volume of importations of
foreign plants the danger of importation of pe.sts is thereby correspondingly
reduced, numerous classes of plants havc been completely excluded when
they became comnorcirlly available in this country. OLher plants are
permitted entry in unlimited numbers because they are not commercially
available in this country. Certainly it can not be denied that there
is scientific merit for the conclusion that a logical reduction of the
volume of imports doks reduce the risk of pest introduction. Particularly
is this true in considering the status of obscure and undetectable and
unknown insect posts and plant diseases. However, (Quarantine No. 57
does not do this.


It is suggested that in order to place the importation of plants
from foreign countries and the quarantine governin- the importation of
such plants on a sound, scientific, fully defensible basis, the Congress
of the United States should declare a policy. It should say it is the
policy of the United States that in order to safeouuard agriculture in
the United States by preventing introduction into or th. spread within
the United States of plant pests which exist in other countries which
may be known or unknown, detectable or undetectable by inspection, and
which r.wy be carried by plants and plant products of such other countries
when offered for importation into the United States, that plants and
plant products capable of propagation offered for importation from any
foreign country shall not be imported except for propagation under
surveillance of the Secretary of Agriculture for such tine and under such
conditions as the said Secretary may prescribe in order that he may be
able to determine by inspection or otherwise whether such plants and plant
products are apparently frej from plant pests. The term "plant pests"
should include any stage of development of insect, nematode or other
invertebrate animal, or any virus, or any bacteria, fungi, or other
parasitical plant which can injure or cause plant disease in plants or
parts thereof, and restrictions should apply to the organisms as such.

Many of the wv.ry pests which existing quarantines seek to exclude
in or on imported plants and plant products could and still can enter as
such divorced from their hosts, since there is no authority to exclude or
regulate their entry. Obviously, the door should not be left open for
their unrestricted entry and it is highly desirable that authority be
secured to control and prevent the entry of plant pathogcnes along lines
recommended in the resolutions passed at the annual meeting of the
Am:rican Phytopatholo-ical Society held in St. Louis in December, 1935.
Authority should be continued for the exclusion of plants and plant pathogens
known to be dangerous to the United Ststcs in their ability to introduce
pests, and the provision for such exclusion should apply not only to plants
and plant products but to any oth,.r article or matter which might be
considered likely to introduce pests, and such articles or matter should
be understood to include any other substrncc whatsoever which the
Secretary o. Agriculture; might from time to time determine and declare as
likely to be 'a modiuwa through'which plant pests mi-ht be introduced from
foreign countries into the United States. Such proc.-durc would have a
sound, scientific, common-sense basis; it would recognize the need for
definitely excluding plants or articles which may carry known pests; it
would provide for growing under such surveillance as would be necessary
plants not knowlr to be dangerous but in recognition of the principle that
all plants may be dangerous through the possible presence of unknown or
undetectable pests, would enable sufficient inspection to develop this
information in the case of each shipment before final release to the
country; it would autorantioally eliminate tho lim-it difficulties which
now exist because there would be no reason for someone to bring in more
than was wanted for propar.otion purposes; it would take the Department
out of the economic determinations which are constantly before it;



it would separate quarantine considerations from trade considerations,
and finally, it would accomplish more than Quarantine 37 ever has
accomplished and wild remove the causes for constant dispute which are
always inherent in a quarantine which has so many of the selective
features that Quarantine 37 has.

In short, this procedure would do several most desirable things:
First, it would definitely exclude plants and other articles known to
be pest carriers; second, it would bring under control the importation
of insects and plant pathogonos as such; third, it would permit the
importation for propagation of plants not known to be dangerous by
nurserymen, gardeners, and groups or individuals; fourth, it would permit
of the holding of imported plants under surveillance of the Seeretary of
Agriculture for such time and under such conditions as to make possible
inspection to dcter-ino freedom front eosts; fifth, it would settle for
all time the selection of people ho should be nTrmitted to import plants
and how many they sho'lc import; sixth, it would do away vrith just about
all the controversial features of the quarantine, and finally, it would
do more than anything yet done to prevent thf introduction into this
country of posts carried by plants and nursery stook. It is encouraging
to know that certain members of Coner:ss now have unr,.r way stops to bring
this about.

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