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'Positive' Customs Regulations May Create Problems for Importers


Government is replete with instances of “Let’s make things more complicated for those who follow the law… that will stop illegal things from happening!” Welcome to the updated Lacey Act. (I’ll bet you were thinking I was going to write about something else …)


The 2008 Farm Aid Bill amended the Lacey Act for customs regulations in an effort to help preserve natural resources such as Plants, Trees, Vegetation and the like. APHIS – the Animal Plant and Health Inspections Service, and an offshoot of the USDA, is asking for its budget to double in 2014. The Lacey Act requires that the genus, species, and location ofharvest be declared when plants or plant products are imported. Importing a hammer with a wooden handle? Where did the wood from the handle come from? So, you are a guitar manufacturer? Where was your wood harvested?

Look, we all know that certain woods get over-harvested. That’s never good, and I am glad to see that governments are taking steps to thwart unscrupulous companies. However, most reputable companies understand that sources for their raw materials need to be protected and cultivated to increase supply, so they can continue to make a legitimate profit. Certain nefarious foreign manufacturers are still going to use whatever wood they want and will certify anything they need, so they can profit illegally. Adding regulations to certify origin of plant material by importers who abide by the law anyway… is that really going to stop “deforestation?”

Last time I looked, there were already laws on the books about endangered species of plants and other things. Most companies are following those laws. Is forcing law abiding companies to file additional paperwork really going to stop those companies from circumventing the law? It hasn’t worked so far in world history, but heck … maybe it will work this time.

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