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Re: Tropica exporting to USA

Hi all:

This is a very interesting thread.  Many US aquarists have for many years 
been frustrated about not having access to Tropica's high-quality plants.  
In 1997 I worked with Claus of Tropica in order to get the USDA to change 
its rules or make an exception for Tropica.  I thought some of you may be 
interested in what I found.

The rules regarding the importation of plants clearly do not allow plants 
that have their roots wrapped or covered in something that would prevent 
easy inspection.  This is THE sticking point with the USDA.

Tropica achieves its high-quality standards in part through the use of 
rockwool.  It provides an excellent medium for plant roots.  As a result, 
all of Tropica's plants "grow-out" in it.  It would be economically 
prohibitive for Tropica to assign workers to carefully remove the rockwool 
from the plants prior to exportation to the US.

What Claus was attempting to do is qualify the Tropica nursery for a special 
certification (phyto-somthing or other) that would pre-approve Tropica 
plants for shipment to the US even though the roots were not visible.  This 
is done by meeting many sanitary requirements and passing many very 
complicated tests.  As I recall, even though Tropica is a state-of-the-art 
facility, they still needed to make some changes in how they did things.

Moreover, this special certificate was given on a species-by-species basis.  
Therefore, Tropica would need to meet these requirements for each one of the 
species it intended to send to the US.  This would result in a large expense 
to Tropica.

In the end, the USDA really made it very difficult for Tropica to meet its 
requirements without a VERY large outlay of capital.  So, considering this 
expense, plus the fact that they would then compete against all of the US 
aquatic plant farmers, the profitability of selling to the US would be 
suspect at best.

Frankly, from a business point of view, I agree with Tropica's decision not 
to export to the US.  Currently, the expense is too high and the market too 


Art Giacosa
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