NCBA Helps Lead Coalition to Close $630 Million Shortfall for Inspections of Agricultural Products
WASHINGTON (June 29, 2020) — The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today helped lead a coalition of more than 150 agricultural organizations in urging Congressional appropriators to close an estimated $630 million funding shortfall for the Customs and Border Protection’s (CPB’s) Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI) at U.S. ports of entry. The coalition stated its case in a letter to members of the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
CPB Agriculture Specialists, Technicians, and Canine Teams inspect ag imports to prevent the entry of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases such as Food and Mouth Disease. The inspections are ordinarily funded by AQI user fees that are collected by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), but those user fees have dropped dramatically as international travel and cargo imports have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shortfall in funding for AQI at ports of entry through the end of fiscal year 2021 is estimated to be $630 million.
“We urge Congress to ensure that the essential work of CBP agriculture inspectors continues uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the coalition’s letter said. “We depend on AQI to ensure that America’s agriculture sector remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections.”
“The pandemic has already had a devastating impact on our nation’s citizens and on our economy,” said NCBA Executive Director, Government Affairs, Allison Rivera. “We need to continue to fund our CBP Ag Inspectors and give them the resources they need so that they may continue to be vigilant at our ports of entry in order to keep out foreign animal diseases and pests.
The group’s full letter and a list of signing organizations can be found here.