Background & Update
Agrilus planipennis, commonly known as the emerald ash borer (EAB) is a green jewel beetle native to eastern Asia that feeds on ash species. Outside its native range, it is an invasive species and is highly destructive to ash trees native to North America. The emerald ash borer beetle was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002.
Today, EAB infestations have been detected in 25 states; Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Ash wood is valued for wooden pallets, flooring, furniture, sports equipment (e.g., baseball bats, hockey sticks, and oars), tool handles, and supplies for dairies, poultry operations, and beekeepers. In the United States, only ash trees are at risk for EAB. Ash trees are widespread in the United States and all 16 native ash species are susceptible to attack. Ash trees with low population densities of EAB often have few or no external symptoms of infestation.
Control of EAB is an issue as it spread across the Midwest, East, and Southern regions of the United States. Human activity appears to be a part of spreading the pest, particularly with the movement of firewood. Wooden pallets come under scrutiny, even though the industry heat treats and uses properly treated wood. USDA-APHIS also regulates the transportation of product from quarantined areas including ash nursery stock, green lumber, and any other ash material such as logs, pallets, dunnage, stumps, roots, branches and wood chips.
For the wooden pallet industry, another issue is the regulation and enforcement of the use and transportation of ash.
For example, in a May 15, 2015 “Open letter to the Missouri Forest Products Industry”, USDA-APHIS revisited field inspections in the wood products industry to verify compliance with EAB regulations and specifically quarantine. USDA enforcement officials arriving on-site to wood industry surprised many businesses causing concern over authority, actions, inspections, and potential penalties.
In November of 2013, the entire state of Missouri was quarantined for EAB. At that time, the enforcement of the EAB regulations (which can be found at www. aphis.usda.gov) came under the jurisdiction of the USDA-APHIS. In early 2014, both Missouri Forest Products Association (MFPA) and USDA distributed information to the industry regarding the ramifications of the statewide quarantine via newsletters, meetings, site visits, and personal communication. Under the EAB regulations, regulated articles include all ash (Fraxinus spp.) material - trees, logs, limbs, branches, chips/mulch; green lumber, wood packaging material, and all hardwood firewood. In early 2015, due to apparent incidents of noncompliance, USDA-APHIS in Missouri made a decision to elevate the enforcement of EAB regulations and began revisiting all sectors of the wood products industry. Due to the volume of potentially non-compliant material being supplied to the pallet industry, an emphasis has been placed on this sector of the wood industry, recognizing the shared responsibility of the supply chain serving the pallet manufacturers. Understand that the entire wood industry is subject to EAB regulations.
The NWPCA participated in the dialogue between the Missouri Forest Products Association and USDA-APHIS to facilitate a discussion on how to improve and clarify communication between the federal government and industry. The result of the discussion was a joint letter by Mike Brown, State Plant Health Director USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine and Brian Brookshire, Executive Director of MFPA to the association membership in the state of Missouri.
It is the responsibility of the NWPCA to monitor regulations applicable to wooden pallet and containers. NWPCA communicates relevant information in this regard to our members. It is the responsibility of wooden pallet and container companies to stay abreast of these and other important guidelines and deliver to their customers a product that meets relevant guidelines.
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