Letter

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:

The undersigned groups urge you to ensure adequate funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI) at U.S. international ports of entry. The global COVID-19 pandemic threatens to disrupt agriculture inspections, which are critical to preventing the introduction of plant and animal pests and diseases that could devastate American agriculture.

The $1 trillion U.S. agriculture sector is a crucial component of the American economy. CBP agriculture inspectors perform critically important agricultural inspections every day at the nation’s ports of entry to prevent the entry of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases. Foreign pests and diseases, such as African swine fever, which has killed more than one out of every four pigs globally, would have a devastating effect on American agriculture if they reached our shores.

Agriculture inspection of international passengers and cargo is carried out by CBP’s Agriculture Specialists, Technicians and Canine Teams. These CBP personnel are ordinarily funded by AQI user fees, collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and transferred to CBP to cover salaries and expenses of the inspectors. The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a precipitous downturn in international travel and lowered cargo imports. International air travel alone has fallen by nearly 98%. Maritime shipping is down nationally by double-digit percentages year-on-year, with drops in volume varying from seaport to seaport. And virtually all seaport passenger travel has halted, with the 2020 tourism season virtually eliminated.

This unprecedented decline has resulted in such dramatically reduced AQI user fee collections that even the APHIS’ user fee reserve fund will be depleted by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. With user fee collections not expected to rebound for the foreseeable future, the shortfall in funding for AQI at the ports of entry through the end FY 2021 is estimated to be $630 million.

We urge Congress to ensure that the essential work of CBP agriculture inspectors continues uninterrupted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We depend on AQI to ensure that America’s agriculture sector remains safe from foreign animal and plant pests and diseases. It is inconceivable that Congress would risk widespread damage to U.S. agriculture and the overall economy by not funding these inspections.

Respectfully submitted,

Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference

Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative

Alabama Cattlemen’s Association

Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association

American Association of Avian Pathologists

American Association of Bovine Practitioners

American Association of Port Authorities

American Association of Swine Veterinarians

American Dairy Coalition

American Dairy Goat Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Honey Producers Association

American Horse Council

American Peanut Council

American Seed Trade Association

American Sheep Industry Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

AmericanHort

Animal Health Institute

Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association

Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Association of Veterinary Biologics Companies

Border Trade Alliance

California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association

California Cattlemen’s Association

California Pork Producers Association

Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

Colorado Livestock Association

Colorado Pork Producers Council

Corn Refiners Association

Dairy Producers of New Mexico

Dairy Producers of Utah

Exotic Wildlife Association

Farm Credit Council

Florida Cattlemen’s Association

Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association

Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association

Fresh Produce Association of the Americas

Georgia Cattlemen’s Association

Georgia Pork Producers Association

Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council

Hawaii Pork Producers

Idaho Cattle Association

Illinois Beef Association

Illinois Green Industry Association

Illinois Pork Producers Association

Indiana Beef Cattle Association

Indiana Pork Producers Association

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

Iowa Institute for Cooperatives

Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association

Iowa Pork Producers Association

Kansas Livestock Association

Kansas Pork Association

Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association

Kentucky Pork Producers Association

Livestock Marketing Association

Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association

Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association

Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay

Maryland Cattlemen’s Association

Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association

Michigan Agri-Business

Michigan Cattlemen’s Association

Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association

Michigan Pork Producers Association

Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association

Minnesota Pork Producers Association

Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association

Mississippi Pork Producers Association

Missouri Cattlemen’s Association

Missouri Green Industry Alliance

Missouri Pork Association

Montana Pork Producers Council

Montana Stockgrowers Association

National Animal Interest Alliance

National Association of Federal Veterinarians

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Chicken Council

National Christmas Tree Association

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Onion Association

National Pork Producers Council

National Sorghum Producers

National Treasury Employees Union

National Turkey Federation

Nebraska Cattlemen

Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Inc.

Nevada Cattlemen’s Association

New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association

New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau

New York Pork Producers Co-op

North American Deer Farmers Association

North American Elk Breeders Association

North American Meat Institute

North American Renderers Association

North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association

North Carolina Pork Council

North Dakota Pork Council

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association

Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives

Ohio Cattlemen’s Association

Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association

Ohio Pork Council

Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association

Oklahoma Pork Council

Oregon Association of Nurseries

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association

Oregon Pork Producers

Oregon Women for Agriculture

Pet Food Institute

Plant California Alliance

Pork Producers of Pennsylvania

Produce Marketing Association

Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania

Rural & Agriculture Council of America

Society of American Florists

South Dakota Association of Cooperatives

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association

South Dakota Pork Producers Council

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association

Tennessee Pork Producers Association

Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

Texas Cattle Feeders Association

Texas Citrus Mutual

Texas International Produce Association

Texas Pork Producers Association

U.S. Dry Bean Council United Egg Producers

United Fresh Produce Association

United States Animal Health Association

United States Cattlemen’s Association

Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc.

US Rice Producers Association

USA Rice Federation

Utah Cattlemen’s Association

Utah Pork Producers

Virginia Cattlemen’s Association

Virginia Pork Council, Inc.

Washington Cattle Feeders Association

Washington State Cattlemen’s Association

Washington State Dairy Federation

Washington State Potato Commission

West Virginia Cattlemen’s Association

Western Growers Association

Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association

Wisconsin Pork Association

Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Date Sent:

June 29, 2020

Sender:

Coalition Group

Recipient:

U.S. House and Senate Committees on Appropriations

Subject:

COVID-1 & agriculture inspections

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