USDA to Increase User Fees for Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection in 2024

What’s Changing: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced an increase in user fees for the Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection (AQI) program starting October 1, 2024. This adjustment is supported by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), which acknowledges the necessity of the fee hike to adequately fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural inspectors. These inspectors are essential for executing the AQI program at U.S. ports of entry.

Fee Details: User fees, paid by both passenger and cargo transporters, are crucial for the AQI program. Due to significant changes in international travel and shipping dynamics, such as the operation of larger ships and an increase in cargo volume, the fees set in 2015 are now insufficient to cover the operational costs of the program. For detailed information on the new fee structure, click here.

NPPC’s Perspective: Last fall, the NPPC submitted comments in favor of the proposed fee increases, stating, “Increased user fees will provide the necessary funding to enhance AQI programs, improve inspections, and implement preventative measures essential for protecting agricultural production.”

NPPC’s Role: The NPPC has been a strong advocate for the AQI program, contributing significantly to its enhancement. In 2020, the council was instrumental in the passage of the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act, which allowed the CBP to hire an additional 720 agricultural inspectors.

Importance of the AQI Program: The AQI program is vital for the protection of the $1 trillion U.S. agriculture sector, a significant component of the national economy. CBP inspectors are crucial in screening cargo and passenger baggage for plant pests and potential animal disease vectors, safeguarding U.S. agriculture, trade, and commerce.