Section 8e of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (AMAA) applies to specific fruit, vegetable, and specialty crop imports into the United States. The law requires imported products to meet the same or comparable grade, size, quality and maturity standards as domestic products covered by Federal marketing orders. The Marketing Order and Agreement Division (MOAD) under USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) enforces the Federal marketing orders for fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops, as well as compliance with import regulations.
It is the responsibility of the importer of record to have each lot (shipment) imported inspected for grade and quality by AMS. The importer is defined as the party responsible for clearing the goods through customs and could be the shipper, the receiver, or a third party such as a broker or attorney of record.
Section 8e import regulations are consistent with Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which ensures that imports are not discriminated against by being held to standards higher than those applied to domestic products. Inspection and certification of both imported and domestic commodities regulated by marketing orders is done before the products enter the U.S. commercial market.
Beginning September 1, 2016, all imported commodities subject to AMS Section 8e regulation must be presented for inspection to AMS or its Federal-State partners as separate lots that correspond to each individual Customs Entry Number. This requirement aligns the practices in all ports of entry in the United States, and will help AMS expedite its review and release of shipments from a “Hold Intact” status to a “May Proceed” status, allowing product movement to market in a speedy and efficient manner. This improvement is a result of AMS transitioning to a new program that utilizes data generated through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) to monitor compliance with the Section 8e regulations on imported agricultural commodities.
Since July 23, 2016, CBP has required all importers to submit their entry filings through the ACE as part of a government-wide deployment of the new International Trade Data System (ITDS). The ACE electronic interface is accelerating the processing of entry filings for all importers by automating clearance processes by all government agencies, including AMS. To accomplish this, CBP requires each government agency to electronically message back to ACE with the status of each entry filing. With ACE, importers will be able to determine the entry status under AMS or any other Agency’s requirements that determine release by CBP for entry into the United States. Presenting your products for AMS inspection segregated by Customs Entry Number allows AMS to notify CBP so that your products can be released into the channels of commerce quickly and efficiently.
Please contact your local USDA inspection office for further information about requesting an inspection (Inspection Services). For questions about meeting Section 8e import regulations or the electronic filing process please contact our Compliance and Enforcement Branch at (888) 551-3523. You can also learn more about the ACE and how to make it work for you by viewing a pre-recorded webinar, available at: www.ams.usda.gov/event/importing-fruits-vegetables-and-specialty-crops-using-ace.
A letter was sent to the trade industry informing them of the new requirements in regard to ACE and ITDS on August 24, 2016. Letter to Trade on Section 8E Guidelines-September 2016 (pdf)
Section 8e applies to these specific products:
- Dates (other than dates for processing)
- Hazelnuts (filberts)
- Table grapes
- Olives (other than Spanish-style)
- Irish potatoes
For some Section 8e commodities, foreign production occurs in a growing season that is different from that in the United States. This means that the foreign production complements U.S. production. However, imports of a commodity are regulated by Section 8e only during the period of time that the domestic commodity is also being shipped and regulated.
Section 8e requirements are intended to:
Develop dependable markets for products by ensuring consumer satisfaction and encouraging repeat purchases,
Promote buyer satisfaction and increased sales for these commodities by ensuring that only acceptable quality products are in the U.S. marketplace, and
Help avoid market disruption caused by poor quality of products.
By making a quality product available to U.S. consumers, the agricultural industries in both countries benefit.
Any person who violates any provision of Section 8e, or any regulation, is subject to one or more of the following penalties, which are set forth in the AMAA. Information about options for failed shipments is available in the Notice and Instructions for Lots Failing to Meet 8e Import Requirements (pdf)
A civil penalty of $2,750 per violation, each day the violation continues
Request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service for re-delivery of product and associated fines
Denied entry for future shipments
Civil forfeiture of the value of the import
Notification to other agencies with related regulations
A press release of the results of any violation to include the company’s name and the incurred penalty