Health inspection fees make cross-border operations ill

OTTAWA — A 30-day delay in the implementation of increased border fees has done little to please the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

In a news release, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) says that it is delaying for 30 days the implementation date for an increase in the fees it charges to inspect trucks, trains, ships and arriving international airline passengers arriving at U.S. ports of entry.

According to APHIS, the fee increases (commercial truck user fees will increase from US$5.25 to US$6.00 per trip and commercial truck transponders will increase from US$105 per annum to US$120 ¬ an increase of over 14% in both cases) were supposed to come in on Oct. 1, but will now be introduced on Nov. 1, “to ensure the affected industries have sufficient time to adjust their systems to account for the increase.”

“Introducing APHIS fees in the first place on all trucks entering the United States whether they are carrying agricultural products or not was nothing but a cash grab. This increase and the rationale for the increase are both ludicrous,” says the CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, David Bradley.

APHIS says the increase is needed to restore user fee collections for commercial vehicles and air passengers that have diminished as a result of decreased travel volume. APHIS contends that the fees have not been increased since 2005 and were introduced “due to the need for increased inspections because of heightened security resulting from the events that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

“To acknowledge that trade is down, you would think that the folks at APHIS might have also acknowledged that this is a reflection of the recession and the impact of the thickening of the border for legitimate trade,” says Bradley. “Instead they increase their fees; incredible.”

Carriers have begun to renew their transponders at the prevailing fee of US$205 per unit (US$100 to the US Customs and Border Protection agency and US$105 to APHIS).

Now that APHIS has come along and increased its fees to US$120, CTA is concerned not only with the increase but that this will also create additional problems in the transponder renewal process.

Notice of the delay will be published in the Federal Register soon. CTA will be responding and hopes the rest of the trade community will as well.

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