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CTA Speaks Out Against Agriculture Inspection Fee Raise

TORONTO — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to substantially raise the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) fees imposed on trucks crossing the border, but carriers shouldn’t be paying these fees in the first place, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said.

“CTA questions why carriers should be the ones to have to pay the fees, since they are not the actual owners of the goods, nor are they the users of APHIS services,” the Alliance wrote in a statement. “The fees are likely imposed on carriers because it’s easier to go after the truck and its owner than the person who owns the product.”

The CTA wrote to oppose the USDA’s proposal to increase the APHIS fees from $150 to $320 per truck per year. In addition to the APHIS fee, truckers also pay a Consolidate Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act fee of $100, putting the total cost at $420 per truck per year.

“[The CTA] strongly objects to the way in which the APHIS program is administered, applied and funded,” the CTA wrote in a release, adding that it also acknowledges the U.S. government has the right to protect its food supply from pests imported with food shipments.

“APHIS’s approach is diametrically opposed to everything we have been told over the last decade in terms of a more efficient and secure border,” said CTA President David Bradley. “Whether they’ll listen, remains to be seen.”

Plus, the Alliance added: “Commodities that present risk are the responsibility of the importer and the application of fees should be strategically allocated to importers based on the level of risk the goods present.”

But APHIS fees apply to all trucks crossing the border, regardless of whether or not the goods being imported are food and agriculture-related or whether the trailer is loaded or empty. And it puts a heavy toll on all U.S.-Canada trade, the CTA claims. 

“How efficient and effective is it to be inspecting and charging APHIS fees to trucks that are, for example, importing auto parts into the United States on plastic pallets?” Bradley asked when the fees were announced in late April.

“Goods that present no risk should not be subject to APHIS fees,” the CTA claims.

Of course, advance cargo information, which is now required under e-Manifest, allows carriers to show whether the commodity is being transported on wood pallets, enabling APHIS to better target conveyances where risk is present. 

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