USDA's controversial rule to impose new border inspection charges on all Canadian trucks should be scrapped, say Canadian officials, who also question whether the interim rule is a violation of NAFTA trade obligations, according to Today’s Trucking
. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's interim rule removes any prior exemptions from inspection for imported fruits and vegetables grown in Canada. The U.S. says it needs to step-up inspections to guard against pests and bio-terror risk in food and agriculture products, especially those from abroad that are illegally being labeled as Canadian products. To pay for the additional screening, USDA is requiring truckers to fork over $5.25 US per crossing, no matter what their cargo is, or $105 for an annual decal starting Nov. 24 of this year. Carriers with transponders used to pay for U.S. Customs and Border Protection's $100 border crossing fee will be able to simply pay for both administrative processes through CBP's single system, Today’s Trucking
reports. But thousands of truckers who don't cross the border as frequently don't have transponders, and many others may not be aware of the additional $105 charge to USDA. Those truckers will be asked to pay $5.25 US to cross, creating the potential for massive disruptions at busy land ports. The Canadian Trucking Alliance and Canadian Embassy told U.S. officials that the inspections and fee requirements could seriously disrupt the flow of traffic through busy land-border crossings and points out how thousands of drivers have already made investments in pre-clearance security and advance cargo notification programs. Rather than going forward with the extra inspections at the border, Canadian officials recommend the two countries work together to mitigate the risk at origin.