Congress recently approved legislation that will significantly tighten the requirements for the importation of plant and plant product into the U.S., including products made of wood. On May 22, as part of the recently passed farm bill, Congress amended the Lacey Act to make it illegal for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant taken (captured, killed, collected, harvested, cut, logged or removed) in a foreign country that is:

  • Taken, transported, possessed or sold in violation of any foreign law that protects or regulates theft of plants, the taking of plants from a park, forest service forest reserve or another officially protected or designated area, or the taking of plants without or contrary to required authorization;
  • Taken, transported, possessed or sold without paying required royalties, taxes or stumpage fees;
  • Taken, transported, possessed or sold in violation of any legal limitation governing the export or transhipments of plants.

Under the new legislation the term “plant” means any wild member of the plant kingdom, including roots, seeds, part and products thereof, and including trees from either natural or planted forest stands. Within 180 days of the legislation, (approximately mid-November) importers will be required to file a declaration upon importation that contains the (1) the scientific name of any plant (including genus and species) (2) a description of the value and quantity (including unit of measure and (3) the name of the country from which the plant was taken. Declarations need not be filed for plants used exclusively as packaging material to support, protect or carry another item, unless the packaging material itself is the item being imported.