USDA Announces Moratorium on Mandatory Inspections Required by the Walnut Marketing Order

September 29, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a six-month moratorium on the enforcement of mandatory inspection requirements under the federal marketing order for California walnuts. This moratorium, which began Sept. 1, 2021, includes inspection requirements on walnuts imported into the United States under section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.

The moratorium will also affect the California Walnut Board’s (CWB) collection of assessments from domestic handlers under the marketing order. While the moratorium is in effect, the board will be unable to collect assessments to finance its operational activities. Instead, it will be able to employ financial practices authorized by the marketing order, which could include using borrowing authority, using its financial reserves and accepting voluntary contributions.

The enforcement moratorium is based on discussion with industry about market disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as labor and transportation interruptions and ongoing tariff issues. The combination of these issues is adversely affecting market conditions across the California walnut industry.

USDA is informing stakeholders, including the Dried Fruit Association, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and walnut producers, handlers and importers, that USDA is exercising its discretion to issue the temporary moratorium on the enforcement of the mandatory inspection requirements.

The moratorium will remain in place for six months. If the CWB submits a proposal for a formal rulemaking to address the inspection requirements in the marketing order, USDA will extend the moratorium until resolution of the rulemaking process.

USDA’s role overseeing board and program operations will continue uninterrupted.

A notification with details of the moratorium was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 29, 2021.

More information about the marketing order regulating the handling of walnuts grown in California is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 984 California Walnuts webpage, the AMS Marketing Orders and Agreements webpage or by contacting the Marketing Order and Agreement Division at (202) 720-2491.

Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, marketing orders are industry-driven programs that help fruit, vegetable and specialty crop producers and handlers achieve marketing success by leveraging their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually. AMS provides oversight to 29 fruit, vegetable and specialty crop marketing orders and agreements, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

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