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HQ 956552

July 7, 1994

CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 956552 DWS


TARIFF NO.: 8436.80.00

Mr. Robert Di Maio
International Freight Services, Inc.
1610 Rollins Road
Burlingame, CA 94010

RE: Greenhouse Mobile Benching System; Section XVI, Note 3; Explanatory Note 84.36; HQ 074237

Dear Mr. Di Maio:

This is in response to your letters of June 14, 1994, to this office, and April 21, 1994, to the District Director of Customs, San Francisco, California, on behalf of Nurserymen's Exchange, Inc., concerning the classification of a greenhouse mobile benching system under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). In NY 897332, dated April 29, 1994, the Area Director, New York Seaport, advised you that your April 21, 1994, letter was factually insufficient to provide a ruling. However, you have since supplemented your ruling request with additional factual information on the merchandise.


The merchandise consists of an automated greenhouse mobile benching system. The system is an aggregate of machines and systems designed to provide an assembly line method of growing a horticultural crop (i.e., roses). The benches move the potted plants through the various stages of growth: planting, rooting, pinching, and finishing. The complete system functions as a unit with each piece of machinery depending on the previous machine in the assembly line process.

The system is comprised of several components. Potted plants are placed on wheeled aluminum benches, which move through the greenhouse on steel rails. An irrigation system delivers water to the plants by flooding the benches with the desired amount of water. A heating system with controls provides the plants with heat. A machine adds moisture to the soil prior to planting. A machine cuts or pinches plants, and a vacuum machine (within the cutting machine) cleans up the plant clippings. A machine places pots on the benches. A table tipper stands dirty benches for cleaning/washing. A table stacker stacks the clean benches for future use. Other machinery, including extra mobile benches, is included with the system.

The subheading under consideration is as follows:

8436.80.00: [o]ther agricultural, horticultural, forestry, poultry-keeping or bee-keeping machinery, including germination plant fitted with mechanical or thermal equipment . . . : [o]ther machinery.

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty-free treatment.


Whether the greenhouse mobile benching system is classifiable under subheading 8436.80.00, HTSUS, as other horticultural machinery.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's), taken in order. GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes.

Section XVI, note 3, HTSUS, states that:

[u]nless the context otherwise requires, composite machines consisting of two or more machines fitted together to form a whole and other machines adapted for the purpose of performing two or more complementary or alternative functions are to be classified as if consisting only of that component or as being that machine which performs the principal function.

Because, for classification purposes, the greenhouse mobile benching system is a composite machine, we must determine its principal function.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes may be utilized. The Explanatory Notes, although not dispositive, are to be used to determine the proper interpretation of the HTSUS. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989). In part, Explanatory Note 84.36 (p. 1217) states that:

[t]he heading covers machinery, not falling in headings 84.32 to 84.35, which is of the type used on farms (including agricultural schools, co-operatives or testing stations), in forestry, market gardens, or poultry-keeping or bee-keeping farms or the like. However, it excludes machines clearly of a kind designed for industrial use.

In HQ 074237, dated March 7, 1985, it was stated that:

[h]orticulture is a branch of agriculture that deals with the garden production of both food crops and ornamentals.

It is our position that the greenhouse mobile benching system is a composite machine the principal function of which is to produce either crops or ornamentals. Because the system is used in the practice of horticulture, we find that it is classifiable under subheading 8436.80.00, HTSUS.


The greenhouse mobile benching system is classifiable under subheading 8436.80.00, HTSUS, as other horticultural machinery.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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