What is the Lacey Act?
The Lacey Act was passed by the US Congress in 1900 to prohibit the trade of fish and wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of the laws of the United States, a U.S. state, tribal law, or any foreign law. The federal government amended the Lacey Act in 2008, adding the protection of plants and plant products including timber and wood products. The Lacey Act also prohibits the falsification of documents, accounts, or records of any plant or plant product covered by the Act, and importers of plants and plant products must submit a written declaration at the time of import declaring, among other things, the genus, species, and country of harvest of the wood materials contained in the shipment.
Who monitors and enforces the Lacey Act?
Multiple coordinating agencies within the U.S. federal government investigate and enforce compliance to Lacey Act requirements to include APHIS/USDA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Violators are referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution and the levy of potential significant civil and criminal penalties to include monetary fines, imprisonment, and/or forfeiture of goods.
Can ENGOs and NGOs provide evidence of non-compliance to U.S. government agencies that enforce the Lacey Act?
Yes, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), including Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs), actively conduct their own inquiries into potential violations of the Lacey Act. If their efforts reveal a potential issue, this information can be referred to appropriate U.S. government agencies for investigation and potential enforcement action.
How does my company avoid negative publicity associated with Lacey violations and environmental claims? How does an importer confirm that all raw materials are sourced according to the laws of the country of origin?
- Develop and effectively implement a Lacey Act compliance program to specify the procedures, roles and responsibilities for ensuring compliance to Lacey Act requirements
- Conduct a supply chain risk assessment to identify areas of potential risk and determine short and long terms actions to ensure compliance
- Implement a supply chain legality verification and product traceability system to identify and verify the types of wood raw materials used in production
- Conduct independent third-party audits/inspections of your suppliers to identify potential compliance risks and verify the legal origin of wood raw materials
- Meet or exceed your competition’s level of “due care” by continually improving your compliance process
- Keep accurate records of your efforts and results
- If importing from abroad, make sure shipments are properly and accurately declared under the Lacey Act
How does my company avoid possible civil and criminal penalties from Lacey Act violations?
In addition to having a third-party auditor continually review your processes, avoid these common red flags:
- Products that are priced below regular market rate
- Sellers who want cash-only for products without proper documentation
- Facially invalid or otherwise suspicious documents
- Unusual sales practices
- Illegal transactions as described by trade/industry publications
- Supplier inability to provide rational answers to routine questions
How do responsible importers ensure they are in compliance with current trade regulations? How do they verify the origin of raw materials used in production?
According to the Lacey Act, both domestic wood producers and importers demonstrate “due care” to ensure the wood raw materials used in their products were harvested, transported, and sold in compliance with applicable laws. Importers must also file a declaration upon import to specify, among other things, the genus, species, and country of harvest of the wood materials.
Benchmark Holdings offers a variety of support services to assist clients with their due care efforts. Our in-depth program offers additional compliance verification and strengthens your position concerning due care.