BISMARCK – Charles Elhard, a plant protection specialist with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, has been authorized by the federal government to issue phytosanitary certificates for the export of North Dakota plant products.

“North Dakota is seeing considerable growth in agricultural exports and that means more demand for phytosanitary certificates,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “Having additional staff qualified to issue these documents will enable exporters to move their products more efficiently.”

To earn the authorized certifying official (ACO) status, Elhard was required to spend a year working with other ACOs, complete three days of classes with the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and pass an examination.

A native of Jud, Elhard is a 2008 graduate of North Dakota State University with a degree in horticulture. He joined NDDA in February 2010.

A phytosanitary certificate is an official document issued by a plant regulatory official in the U.S. to a U.S. exporter and addressed to the plant protection organization of the importing country. It certifies that the plants or plant products are free from quarantine pests, practically free from other injurious pests, and conform to the current phytosanitary regulations of the importing country.

Goehring said four NDDA staff are now authorized to issue phytosanitary certificates.