FDA to staff Buffalo on weekends (June 01, 2005)

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TORONTO, Ont. – Canadian transportation insiders rejoiced last month at the news that U.S. FDA inspectors are now staffing the Peace Bridge on Sundays from 1 to 9 p.m.

Food and Drug Administration inspectors were not previously present at the crossing on weekends, with the result that any paperwork requiring further review would have to wait until Monday morning to receive final clearance.

For weekend or Monday deliveries, Canadian shippers and trucking companies were obliged to purchase, lease or rent properties in the U.S. to stage equipment for pick up by U.S. carriers.

Exporters and importers also had to pay trucking companies additional mileage to enter the U.S on weekends through Michigan and other upstate New York crossings where weekend FDA inspectors were on site.

Many shipments from Ontario into the U.S. were impacted, as no less than 23 per cent of total truck tonnage destined for New York State from Ontario is food product, according to Canadian trucking officials.

According to David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, “it has always seemed to us that the cost of providing some additional FDA resources is far outweighed by the cost to carriers, exporters and importers. It makes no sense to penalize someone who is trying to relieve border congestion by travelling at off peak times.”

Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association officials say they will continue to work with the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to get FDA weekend staffing extended to the Queenston-Lewiston crossing.

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