Container Stock Inspections Set for April

March 12, 2004 - 11:08

Members of the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA), the Society of American Florists (SAF) and OFA have met to examine the issue of the industry’s compliance with existing weights and measures regulations. Members met in response to the regulatory focus on garden retailers in Pennsylvania within the last year.

According to ANLA, weights and measures regulations specify ways that quantity is communicated to the retail consumer in the form of advertising, signage and labeling. Existing regulations require change in the ways information is currently communicated. Beyond size and volume, the regulations do not appear to require significant changes in current manufacturing or production practices.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA) have been working since June 2003 to resolve issues surrounding the sale of hanging baskets and flowerpots and the amount of stock these containers hold. The issue of increased enforcement of marketing regulations, originally set to begin November 1, 2003, was postponed until April 1, 2004.

According to PLNA, Pennsylvania regulations require container advertisements and labels to accurately reflect the exact measure of the actual container volume. This includes references to "gallon" and "quart" nursery containers and other pots using Imperial measure that do not actually contain that measure. Nursery stock specifications that reference only an imperial volume measurement are not in accordance with the American National Standards Institute. Furthermore, Containers marketed or sold that indicate a "trade" or "#" designation must have volumes within the ranges shown in order to comply with the Standard.

According to ANSI Z-60 Standards, if growers, buyers or specifiers include dimension measurements or imperial volume references, "they are encouraged to also specify ‘round’ or ‘square,’ and to reference the appropriate container classification in the Container Class Table in order to assure adequate soil volume in the container." For instance, a pot that is advertised or labeled 4 1/2 inches must accurately measure 4 1/2 inches on one of its sides if it is square and at the top of the inside diameter if it is round.

Containers are not required to have a label, but if it does, the label must indicate the correct measure or volume of the container. "For example, don’t advertise or label a "1 gallon rhododendron" if its pot does not hold a gallon," says Lisa C. Nicholas, director of government relations for PLNA. "Advertise or label it as a "#1 pot rhododendron" if in fact the pot is a #1 pot according to the American National Standards Institute."

ANLA contacted the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) in the summer of 2003 to discuss the national ramifications of Pennsylvania’s actions. Both ANLA and NIST will be working together to provide the green industry with guidelines and a timeline for full compliance nationally that respects the economic implications for the industry.

Nicolas has stated that the PDA has issued an official notice to the industry on its website with regard to this matter. "There has not been legislative action or changes to the regulations; rather, the PDA issued this alert in order to ensure compliance with the current Pennsylvania regulations." The official notice can be found at http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/070/070toc.html.

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