Agricultural Groups Urge Approval of CBP Funding Bill

10:02AM Jan 27, 2020
USDA Beagle Brigade
A beagle inspector sniffs out agricultural products being brought into the U.S.
( U.S. Department of Homeland Security )

To bolster the nation’s defenses against foreign animal diseases, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging the House Committee on Homeland Security to approve legislation authorizing funding for additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel to conduct agricultural inspections at international ports of entry.

A letter sent last week, spearheaded by NPPC and signed by more than 70 agricultural groups, calls for the expeditious approval of H.R. 4482, NPPC explained in Capital Update. This bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), authorizes $222 million over three years to enable CBP to hire 240 new agricultural specialists and 200 new agricultural technicians each fiscal year until the shortage is filled. The bill also authorizes 60 new canine teams over the next three years. 

Vela's legislation is the companion to Senate bill S. 2107, which passed by unanimous consent in October 2019, NPPC noted. 

"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.," the letter to House Committee for Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said. 

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