KANSAS CITY (B)--The U.S. Department of Agriculture is reducing the size of Karnal bunt-regulated areas in three Arizona counties and relieving some restrictions on the movement of harvesting equipment.

Under this final rule, non-infected acreage in La Paz, Maricopa and Pinal counties that is more than three miles from a field or area associated with a bunted wheat kernel will be released from the regulated areas.

Furthermore, harvesting equipment will only be required to be cleaned and disinfected if it was used to harvest host crops that test positive for Karnal bunt, according to an Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service release.

"This means that wheat producers in newly released areas will be able to move their wheat, including grain and commercial wheat seed, without restrictions," said Richard Dunkle, deputy administrator for plant protection and quarantine with APHIS in the release.

APHIS is a part of USDA's marketing and regulatory programs mission area.

Karnal bunt is caused by the fungus Tilletia indica and is spread through the movement of infected seeds.

Notice of this action appears in the Federal Register and becomes effective immediately.

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