Letter

Dear Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member Rogers:

The undersigned groups request that the Committee on Homeland Security expeditiously report out, without amendment, H.R. 4482, Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act of 2019, a bill authorizing funding to hire additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel needed to conduct Agriculture Quarantine Inspection at the international ports of entry. The Senate version of this bill, S. 2107, was recently approved by the Senate by unanimous consent.

The U.S. agriculture sector is a crucial component of the American economy, generating over $1 trillion in annual economic activity. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foreign pests and diseases cost the American economy tens of billions of dollars annually. CBP employees perform critically important agricultural inspections every day at the nation’s ports of entry. 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.

For years, CBP has been chronically understaffed at U.S. ports of entry. The most recent results of CBP’s Agriculture Specialist Resource Allocation Model (AgRAM) shows a need for an additional 721 Agriculture Specialists. Passage of the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 would authorize CBP to hire 240 Agriculture Specialists and 200 Agriculture Technicians each year until the staffing shortage determined by AgRAM is remedied. The bill also authorizes the training and assignment each year of 20 new Agricultural Canine Teams, which have proven valuable in detecting illicit fruits, vegetables, and animal products that may have otherwise been missed in initial inspections. These specially trained dogs are already being utilized by CBP to sniff out potentially contaminated products. Finally, the bill authorizes supplemental appropriations each year to pay for the activities of agriculture specialists, technicians, and canine teams.

We ask Congress to authorize and fund the needed CBP Agriculture Specialists, Canine Teams, and support staff at the international ports of entry to guard against national security threats, address public safety risks, and grow the economy. To achieve this goal, we urge you to quickly discharge S. 2107/H.R. 4482 without amendment and push for its swift passage in the House.

Respectfully submitted,

Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative

Airports Council International-North America

Alabama Pork Producers

American Dairy Coalition

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Kennel Club

American Sheep Industry Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

AmericanHort

Border Trade Alliance

California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association

California Citrus Mutual

California Farm Bureau Federation

California Pork Producers Association

California Poultry Federation

Colorado Pork Producers Council

Dairy Producers of New Mexico

Dairy Producers of Utah

Fresh Produce Association of the Americas

Hawaii Pork Producers

Idaho Pork Producers Association

Illinois Pork Producers Association

Indiana Pork Producers Association

Iowa Pork Producers Association

Kansas Pork Association

Kentucky Pork Producers Association

Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation

Louisiana Pork Producers Association

Louisiana Rice Producers Group

Michigan Agri-Business

Michigan Pork Producers Association

Minnesota Pork Producers Association

Mississippi Farm Bureau

Mississippi Pork Producers Association

Missouri Pork Association

Montana Pork Producers Council

National Animal Interest Alliance

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

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 Pork Producers Council

National Potato Council

National Sorghum Producers

National Treasury Employees Union

National Turkey Federation

Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Inc.

North American Meat Institute

North American Renderers Association

North Carolina Pork Council

North Dakota Pork Council

Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives

Northwest Chicken Council

Oklahoma Pork Council

Oregon Dairy Farmers Association

Oregon Pork Producers

Oregon Women for Agriculture

Pennsylvania Pork Producers Council

Pet Food Institute

Rural & Agriculture Council of America

South Dakota Pork Producers Council

Tennessee Pork Producers Association

Texas Broiler Council

Texas Citrus Mutual

Texas Egg Council

Texas International Produce Association

Texas Pork Producers Association

Texas Poultry Federation

Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group

Texas Turkey Federation

United Egg Producers

United Fresh Produce Association

United States Cattlemen’s Association

United States Chamber of Commerce

USA Rice Federation

Utah Pork Producers

Virginia Pork Council, Inc.

Washington State Dairy Federation

Washington State Potato Commission

Wisconsin Pork Association

Date Sent:

January 22, 2020

Sender:

Agriculture Coalition Group

Recipient:

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security

Subject:

Invasive Species

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