A New World of Export, Forest Products to the European Union from the US.

October 2023 Issue:

A New World of Export, Forest Products to the European Union from the US.

By:Steve Granzow

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) determines types of treatments and how to enforce compliance, when a pest of quarantine significance is prevalent in the country and/or for those that are difficult to inspect. Treatments can be chemical or non-chemical. There are various approved chemical treatments: fumigants, dips, and sprays. The fumigants include methyl bromide, phosphine, and sulfuryl fluoride. Nonchemical treatments include cold treatment, hot water immersion, vapor heat treatment, steam sterilization, and irradiation. Irradiation treatments have been developed recently.

 Methyl Bromide was a widely used fumigant in the United States until its phase-out in 2005 primarily due to its classification as a Class-I ozone-depleting substance, leaving all its production and consumption to be limited to critical use exemptions, Quarantine, and pre-shipment uses.  More recently the European Parliament, a directly elected legislative branch of the European Union (EU), banned the use of MB for nearly all treatments in March of 2010, and more specifically even for fumigation of Oak logs with bark from the United States in December of 2020. Effectively stopping the export of Oak logs with bark from The United States to the EU. USDA APHIS recommended to the EU that Sulfuryl Fluoride (SF) may be a viable alternative fumigant as part of a systematic approach to prevent the spread of Oak Wilt in logs that retained their bark. The European Parliament requested that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issue their scientific opinion about replacing the MB usage with SF to maintain the export of Oak logs from the US to the EU. After a window of research and testing, the EU has established a seasonal quarantine treatment schedule utilizing Profume (Sulfuryl Fluoride) as part of a systematic approach on a 3-year trial.

The European Council has made these concerted efforts to support their aims within their borders, as described in Article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty, to achieve sustainable development of economic growth while protecting and improving the environment and promoting technological and scientific progress. Their aim to the wider world is to uphold and promote these values and interests and work towards a sustainable development of the earth. They have applied this approach to more than just the elimination of ozone-depleting substances as export pre-treatment and quarantine. Proposals were initiated in 2021 for regulations on deforestation-free products, and new laws in the EU were passed in December of 2022, obliging companies from the US to ensure products sold in the EU have not led to deforestation or forest degradation and requiring compliance be established by 2024.

The European market represents 15% of all forest products exported from the US in the last 5 years, a value of $5 billion on average and 2/3 of that total landed in the EU. It is of utmost importance to the US forest products community and those involved with each step in exporting these products to the EU to ensure that they are not yielded from deforestation and that the 3-year trial using SF for quarantine and pre-treatments is executed to the highest level of compliance, efficacy, and communication through the record if the EU is to be able to turn to the United States for forest products. Douglas Products has obtained a “Special Local Needs” label from the EPA for the use of their Profume fumigant to allow US treatment providers to meet the new export requirement from October 15th of this year to April 10th of 2024. It has been approved to be conducted in only 12 States currently. Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Treatment providers are to have received stewardship training specific to the SLN Profume label, as well as establish a compliance agreement with USDA APHIS specific to the Oak Wilt Treatment Schedule for logs going to the EU. With rounds of testing in a lab, as well as in the field, working with FSS and other treatment providers, Douglas Products and the Profume team have turned towards export treatment industry leaders to gather valuable data and experience in what to expect in preparation for, during, and after achieving such high concentrations of SF for extended exposure windows. Very specific records, not only of the treatment but also of the contents of each container will need to be verified along the way. The European Union has defined their intentions of growing a sustainable, environmentally responsible economy for the consumers within their boundaries, and identified clearly how this should be conducted. Although the standards and goals are set very high, involved, and passionate stewards of the forestry, export, and Quarantine treatment industries will meet the needs, improve methods, and rise to the occasion.