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FDA to staff Buffalo on weekends (April 14, 2005)

TORONTO, Ont. -- The U.S. FDA has announced it will now staff the Peace Bridge on Sundays from 1 to 9 p.m.

TORONTO, Ont. — The U.S. FDA has announced it will now staff the Peace Bridge on Sundays from 1 to 9 p.m.

The news is welcome to Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association staff, who’ve been working for months to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement weekend hours of operation for the processing of paperwork for final clearance at Port of Buffalo border crossing. Members of the Canadian supply chain and their U.S. customers moving FDA impacted product into or through New York State will now be able to do so more easily.

In 2003, carriers moving food and grocery products identified the Port of Buffalo as an international crossing that could be improved from a security and efficiency standpoint by adding FDA inspectors on the weekend.

By not having a presence at the Peace Bridge on weekends any paperwork requiring further FDA review would have to wait until Monday morning to receive final clearance and be unloaded at their customer’s facility. This impacted a great number of shipments from Ontario into the U.S. — 23 per cent of total truck tonnage destined for New York State from Ontario is food product, according to CTA/OTA officials.

Canadian shippers and trucking companies had to purchase, lease or rent properties in the U.S. to stage equipment for pick up by US carriers for weekend and Monday deliveries. 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 hours of operation were available.

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 traveling at off peak times.”

CTA/OTA officials say they will continue to work with the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to raise the need of weekend FDA coverage to be extended to the Lewiston crossing as well as continuing to raise awareness for FDA to align its northern border hours of operation with that of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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