APHIS Proposes Fee Increase for Agriculture Quarantine Inspections
WASHINGTON, DC - The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing proposed changes to fees charged to recoup the costs of conducting agricultural quarantine inspections (AQI) at U.S. ports of entry.
APHIS is proposing the adjustment of hourly rates charged for employees performing work associated with AQI activities on Sundays, holidays or other after-hours period. This marks the first proposed change in overtime rates since 2002. These rates would be raised to match the anticipated costs of providing services through 2018, according to a press release.
The proposed AQI fee structure will also adjust current rates to ensure that no one party is paying more than the costs of the services they incur. Since this proposal aligns fees with actual costs, some fees will go down while others go up.
APHIS is proposing to lower fees for international air passengers from $5 to $4 and railroad cars from $7.75 to $2. It is also proposing to raise fees for inspections of commercial aircraft from $70.75 to $225, commercial maritime cargo vessels from $496 to $825, commercial trucks with a transponder from $105 to $320 a year and commercial trucks without a transponder from $5.25 to $8 per crossing, according to a press release.
APHIS is also proposing to add a $2 fee per sea passenger to make up costs associated with inspecting cruise vessels and passenger baggage as well as adding a $375 fee to recover the costs of services for monitoring the application of or providing treatments to imported cargo to minimize risks.
APHIS has been using Department of Homeland Security funds to make up the difference in cost in services, and these fees adjustments are expected to fully fund the actual costs of running the AQI program.
The AQI program is responsible for inspections conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection of conveyances, cargo and passenger baggage entering the country as well as APHIS’ analytical and scientific work to track pests overseas, focus inspections at ports of entry and develop the import regulations that protect U.S. animal and plant health from foreign pests.
This proposal will be available for a 60-day comment period, and APHIS will consider all comments as it works to finalize the changes to the fees.