NCBFAA asks Congress to keep CBP ag inspections
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America asked Congress this week to exclude from the proposed Farm Bill a provision that would transfer agricultural inspections back to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA's agricultural cargo inspection function was transferred to Customs and Border Protection during the formation of the Department of Homeland Security shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Although the transition from USDA to CBP has not been easy, the NCBFAA said the hardest part is now over, and to reverse the move now would have a detrimental effect on the agricultural inspection process.
'We ask for your patience because in the long run NCBFAA believes that this change is best for the American public,' said Mary Jo Muoio, president of the Washington-based association, in a letter to Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. 'We think that agricultural inspection can be more effective using CBP's infrastructure and automated targeting and risk analysis techniques.'
The NCBFAA argued that growing trade volumes and increased security demands have made the transfer of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service border inspectors to CBP an important step in the country's overall anti-terrorism mission and has gone a long way to replacing the 'fragmented and compartmentalized approach that preceded that change.'
The association also highlighted the benefits of CBP's Automated Commercial Environment and Automated Targeting System as important tools now available to agricultural inspectors in their effort to keep potentially dangerous shipments from entering the country.