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EPA Proposes Revised Crop Groups for Herbs and Spices
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By Jason E. Johnston

On November 6, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule in the Federal Register that makes several changes to “Crop Group 19:  Herbs and Spices Group.”  85 Fed. Reg. 70976.  The original proposed rule, which was published on August 27, 2019 (84 Fed. Reg. 44804), was created in response to a petition developed by the International Crop Grouping Consulting Committee (ICGCC) workgroup that was submitted by the Interregional Research Project Number 4 (IR-4).  EPA received comments from eight entities and revised the original proposed rule in response to those comments.

The major components of the new rule are a revision of the commodity definition for marjoram; the addition of three new commodity definitions for basil, edible flowers, and mint; and replacement of the existing “Crop Group 19:  Herbs and Spices Group” with two new expanded crop groups, “Crop Group 25:  Herb Group” and “Crop Group 26:  Spice Group.”  Recognizing that the existing combined Crop Group 19 Herbs and Spices Group limited the establishment of crop group tolerances, EPA created the two new separate crop groups to benefit herb and spice growers.  EPA states that the anticipated economic benefit of the new crop groups is estimated to be a cost savings of $51.8 million annually.

The crop groups in the final rule include even more commodities than those listed in the proposal.  Crop Group 25 includes 418 herb commodities directly and 25 indirectly through the modification of the definition of edible flowers in 40 C.F.R. Section 180.1. Crop Group 26 includes 205 spice commodities.  The final rule specifies all commodities in the new crop groups and the subgroups therein (i.e., 25A and 25B for fresh herbs and dried herbs) and provides updated representative commodities for each crop group and subgroup.  The effective date of the final rule is January 5, 2021.