This week, the National Pork Producers Council spearheaded a letter signed by more than 70 agriculture groups urging the House Homeland Committee to expeditiously approve legislation (H.R. 4482) authorizing funding for additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to conduct agriculture inspections at international ports of entry.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), authorizes $222 million over three years to enable CBP to hire 240 new agriculture specialists and 200 new agriculture technicians each fiscal year until the shortage is filled. The bill also authorizes 60 new canine teams over the next three years. Rep. Vela's legislation is the companion to Senate bill S. 2107, which passed by unanimous consent in October 2019.
"CBP agricultural specialists play a vital role in both trade and travel safety and prevent the introduction of harmful foreign animal diseases and exotic plant pests into the U.S. Diseases such as African swine fever, which has killed more than one out of every four pigs on the planet, would have a devastating impact on U.S. livestock producers, their communities and the economy if introduced into the U.S.," explained the letter to House Homeland Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).
For more than a year, NPPC has led agriculture's call for a solution to the ag inspector shortage to bolster the nation's defenses against FADs.