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CBP seeks more eyes for pest detection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has started taking applications this week to fill new agriculture specialist positions in ports of entry throughout the country.

   U.S. Customs and Border Protection has started taking applications this week to fill new agriculture specialist positions in ports of entry throughout the country.
   The agency said it will close the job opening when it receives 400 applications.
   CBP officers at the ports of entry continue to face myriad pests hidden in ocean and air freight, which could wreak costly havoc across the U.S. agriculture industry.
   “CBP agriculture specialists play a vital homeland security role on our nation’s front line by intercepting foreign plant and animal diseases and invasive insects that pose significant threats to our forest, livestock and crop industries,” Casey Durst (pictured above), the agency’s director of field operations in Baltimore, said in a recent press release about the ag specialist hiring campaign.
   After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. government heightened its effort to protect the country’s agricultural and forest industries from intentional introductions of harmful pests and diseases. In March 2003, the Bush administration ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, as part of the One Face at the Border initiative, to transfer its 1,800 inspectors from USDA to the Department of Homeland Security to become customs agricultural specialists.
   In May 2004, CBP assumed responsibility for training all new ag specialists. New hires must have a four-year college degree in science, along with some work experience. These individuals come from a variety of fields, including agriculture, natural resources management and veterinary medicine.
   Like all new entrants to CBP, these individuals must attend three weeks of pre-academy on homeland security. The trainees are next sent to Frederick, Md., northwest of Washington, D.C., where they attend 34 training days of specialized instruction at USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Professional Development Center.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.