Greenhouse Certification Program

Laura Kunkle October 20 2016

Twenty years ago, USDA’s Animal & Health Inspection Service (APHIS) entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to develop an export certification program for the timely movement of commercial shipments of eligible “low-risk plant material: low-risk ornamental plants between the two countries. The program allowed for movement of greenhouse-grown plants between the two countries using a “sticker” – an Export Certification Label – in place of the traditional phytosanitary certificate. However, as the global nature of trade increased over the years, the Greenhouse Certification Program (GCP) needed revisions.
Fast forward to 2011, when President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper created the Regulatory Cooperation Council, to begin promoting better alignment of regulatory approaches between the two nations. Renewal and revision of the GCP was identified as one of the several pilot projects in that effort.
The revision effort has been detailed and complicated, but is now in its final stages. According to Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Research, the program changes are significant, and will be phased in over a period of up to two years. APHIS and CFIA welcomed stakeholder input, much of it provided by AmericanHort and Society of American Florists (SAF).
Craig recently reported that most participating U.S. growers are in Florida, but there are growers in other states, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Ohio, and a few others. While the program has been successful, over time there have been some problems with prohibited plants being shipped under the GCP designation, and there have been major global advances in the use of “systems approaches” for plant production and certification.