CTA objects to “ludicrous” APHIS fee hikes

Truck News

TORONTO, Ont. — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is decrying massive inspection fee increases proposed by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The fee increases are being implemented to recoup the costs of conducting agricultural quarantine inspections at US border crossings. However, CTA chief David Bradley says the sharp increases can’t be absorbed by the industry.

The proposed changes would see commercial trucks with a transponder pay US$320 a year – a 205% increase from today’s fee of US$105. Including the $100 CBP portion, the total fee to a commercial vehicle using a transponder would be $420, up from $205, under the plan. Trucks without transponders will be charged US$13.50 per crossing, up 52% from today’s fee of US$10.75.

APHIS contends fees haven’t gone up since 2002, aside from some inflationary adjustments. It aimed to increase fees in 2009 but the CTA and other organizations successfully intervened.

“The proposed increases are ludicrous,” said David Bradley. “They would considered so at any time, let alone in the current economic climate. The United States, like Canada, has every right to protect its agricultural sector from the importation of foreign pests and diseases, and inspections are a necessary part of that. But setting astronomical fee increases without consideration of the impact on other industries – or without seeking ways to more effectively and efficiently deploy its resources through risk assessment as opposed to inspecting every truck whether it is hauling agricultural products or not – is completely untoward.”

He said the proposed fee increase goes against the Beyond the Border Action Plan’s movement to reduce red tape and costs for cross-border trade.

“At a time when Canada and the United States are supposed to be working to implement the Beyond the Border Action Plan, APHIS comes along with a proposal that is beyond reason,” Bradley added.

He says APHIS should be using a more targeted, risk assessment approach to consultation based on the “trusted trader” principles employed in other border security programs.

“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?” he asks. “Inevitably, these costs will be passed along in higher freight rates to the shippers, importers and exporters.”

This proposed rule will be available for a 60-day comment period.

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