In October 2011, the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness Act (H.R. 3210) was introduced to reduce the burden of the Lacey Act on importers, manufacturers and retailers of wood and wood-based products.
The amendment follows the Department of Justice’s recent raids on Gibson Guitar Corp. factories in Tennessee that contained rare materials. The RELIEF Act would exempt any plants imported into, and any finished plant or plant product that was assembled or processed in the U.S. before May 22, 2008, in addition to limiting the declaration requirement to plants entered only for consumption. The RELIEF Act would add a provision necessitating a certification process for legal plants. This certification process would entail individual manufacturer, importer and retailer certification in addition to individual item certification for plant products harvested, imported or manufactured after May 22, 2008.
With regard to tree-based products, the RELIEF Act would remove the requirement to declare the scientific name, quantity, country of origin and import value for all material except solid wood and items imported only for commerce. Lacey Act violators who knowingly participate in the trafficking of illegal plant products would endure a civil penalty not exceeding $250 for the first violation. Importers, retailers and resellers who unknowingly possess an illegal plant, however, would no longer be assessed a penalty or face property confiscation. In order to facilitate public awareness of illegal plant materials, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would be required to report to Congress on the feasibility of creating a database of foreign laws regarding prohibited plant sources, according to global trade law attorneys Barnes/Richardson, www.barnesrichardson.com.
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