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APHIS Oversight Would Rejuvenate Ag Inspections

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 7, 2007 – Moving agricultural import inspection functions from the Department of Homeland Security back to the Agriculture Department would more effectively protect U.S. agriculture and the nation’s food supply from intentional and accidental threats, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Following passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, inspection activities of the Department of the Treasury’s Customs Service, the Department of Justice’s Immigration and Naturalization Service, and USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service were combined in DHS’s Customs and Border Inspections program.

A 2006 Governmental Accountability Office report shows that since USDA transferred responsibility for port inspections to DHS, fewer agricultural inspections have been conducted at key points of entry, AFBF told the full Senate in a letter.

“Inspection rates decreased in Miami by 12.7 percent, in Boston by 17.9 percent and in San Francisco by 21.4 percent,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. In addition, according to the GAO report 60 percent of agricultural inspection specialists believed they were doing either “somewhat” or “many fewer” inspections since functions were transferred to DHS.

“Farm Bureau advocates strong safeguards to secure U.S. agriculture and the food supply from both intentional and accidental threats. We believe that APHIS is the most knowledgeable and best-equipped agency to handle inspection services at all U.S. ports of entry,” Stallman said.

Farm Bureau is urging support for S. 887, legislation that would move agricultural import inspection functions from the Department of Homeland Security back to the Agriculture Department.

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Contacts: Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
tracyg@fb.org
Cyndie Sirekis
(202) 406-3649
cyndies@fb.org