Tomato Suspension Agreement

Comment Deadline Approaching for USDA’s Handling of ToBRFV

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Fruits & Vegetables, Industry, Regulation


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still accepting feedback on how the agency should address Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV). USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is gathering input on two pathway risk assessments and three potential regulatory policy choices regarding ToBRFV in fresh tomatoes and peppers. Feedback from the public will be accepted through the Stakeholder Risk Assessment Consultation webpage until August 30, 2023.

APHIS is considering three options for addressing the virus. One policy avenue being explored is continuing to regulate ToBRFV as a quarantine pest while lifting import restrictions for tomato and pepper fruit intended for consumption. Regulations for propagative materials and measures against domestic virus detections would remain. A second option is to classify the virus as a non-quarantine pest and revoke the import order. That approach would remove all import barriers for the virus in fruit for consumption and propagative materials, effectively ending APHIS’s response to domestic virus detections. A third option would maintain ToBRFV as a quarantine pest and uphold the present import order requirements. APHIS would continue actions against domestic virus discoveries in fruit, seeds, and other consumable propagative materials.

With ToBRFV being detected multiple times within the U.S. in recent years and its distribution undergoing rapid change globally, APHIS is reviewing its guidelines for overseeing the trade of fresh tomatoes and peppers, including the seeds and other materials used for cultivation. As part of this review process, APHIS has conducted pathway risk assessments to inform its policy decisions. APHIS is seeking not only scientific insights into the prevalence of ToBRFV within the U.S. but also input on optimal management practices and the development of resistant tomato varieties against this virus. Additionally, the agency seeks to better understand the economic implications associated with the various regulatory options.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West