Foundation Leads National Nursery Certification Efforts for Specialty Crops

Over the past few years, the Foundation was awarded grant funds to facilitate a national certification standards working group tasked with developing a national certification standard model for U.S. fruiting crop pathogen-tested planting stock programs. This model standard has allowed state agencies and the agricultural industry to harmonize regulations and better facilitate trade between states.

A national nursery certification model for specialty crops is important for a number of reasons:

  • safeguarding agriculture from economically damaging pathogens
  • industry awareness and demand for clean plants in the U.S.
  • greater access to and knowledge of “how to” develop a successful certification program in a state that doesn’t yet have one
  • states with a current program can use as a baseline to audit current programs
  • trade regulations with the European Union change significantly starting January 1, 2023
    • all planting stock of fruit crops (including winegrapes) must originate from approved certification programs with U.S. specialty crop exporters under pressure to enter approved certification programs that meet new EU criteria
    • new requirements are driving interest in official certification programs and impacted nurseries are turning to state regulators to ensure their state certification criteria meet import requirements of the countries to which they export

Next steps: The Foundation just submitted a final national nursery certification model standard for US fruiting crop pathogen-tested planting stock programs to USDA. The national model was created by regulators/pathologists – and informed by industry – in the states that have tree fruit, berry, and grapevine certification programs (this includes CA, OR, WA, MI, NY, PA). The work will be presented as the United States’ model at the October bilateral trade meeting with the European Union so that exports to the European Union can continue.

As USDA works with countries on trade agreements, they are pleased they could turn to this working group to get status of state certification programs from one source and know there are efforts to harmonize and align international requirements.

The Foundation is committed to facilitating sustainable solutions for the Washington wine industry. This national certification standard model blueprint (funded by grants) creates a new paradigm for crop certification that will not only help prepare US agriculture – including the wine industry – for compliance with new EU requirements, but increases communication amongst states in the movement of nursery crops. The facilitation of movement of plant material across state and international lines will be more harmonized, collaborative, and expedited, setting a high standard for the U.S. and the importance it places on clean plants.


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