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CTA chief opposes “deeply flawed” plans for agricultural inspection fees at the border

OTTAWA, Ont. -- US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has outlined the procedures it plans to put in place at the ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has outlined the procedures it plans to put in place at the land border to collect agricultural inspection fees beginning Nov. 24.

The highly controversial fee, which was recently announced by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (a branch of the US Department of Agriculture), is designed to pay for inspections of loads in search of fruits, vegetables and flowers entering the US which are labeled as products of Canada but originate elsewhere. As a result, the single crossing rate for trucks will more than double to US$10.25 and the annual transponder cost will rise to US$205. All trucks, regardless of domicile and commodity carried, will be required to pay.

According to a document released by CBP, trucks with a valid 2006 transponder will have their crossing tracked automatically. Drivers of these trucks will not have to pay the user fee at the primary inspection line. The carrier will be billed directly for $5.25 times the number of crossings which occur between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31. Carriers renewing transponders for 2007 will pay the higher rate, and no additional bill will be issued. For trucks that pay on a per crossing basis, the driver will be required to pay US$10.25 at primary beginning Nov. 24, instead of the existing US$5.

The decision by CBP, which has been handed responsibility for collecting the US agriculture departments fees, to roll both fees into a single transponder should reduce the number of trucks that will have to produce dollar bills, change and credit cards at the primary inspection line, but it is cold comfort, says Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley. The whole program, from justification, to concept, to design, is deeply flawed in our view and adds to a further thickening of the border and the costs of transporting trade between the US and Canada.

It is patently unfair to expect trucking companies to pay for the inspection of someone elses goods, particularly when by APHISs own admission between 80 and 95% of the trucks crossing into the US from Canada dont even carry agricultural products, he said.

CTA, the Government of Canada and other groups have officially informed the US federal government that they oppose the program and want it withdrawn and replaced by bilateral discussions between the countries aimed at addressing the concerns of APHIS in a more fair and effective manner.

The more costly we make the border, and the more requirements we impose, the worse off we all are, says Bradley.

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