House Ag Subcommittee: Stopping Foreign Pests From Entering
AgPress Subcommittee Reviews Performance of Border Inspections Responsible for Interception of Foreign Pests and Diseases
WASHINGTON - The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to examine the joint
performance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Customs and Border
Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in protecting U.S. agriculture from foreign pests and diseases.
Congressman Dennis Cardoza of California is Chairman of the Subcommittee.
"Stopping foreign pests and prohibited agricultural products from entering the US might not be as sexy as stopping terrorists,
weapons or drugs but it is certainly just as important," said Chairman Cardoza during the hearing. "These are six and eight-legged
terrorists that can wreak havoc on our nation's agricultural industry, costing billions of taxpayer dollars in eradication efforts
and decimate our ability to access new export markets."
"It is imperative that our Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Service is performing at an optimal level," said Ranking Member Randy
Neugebauer of Texas. "Since the transfer of inspection responsibilities to Homeland Security, we have seen firsthand the subpar
performance. The question before us now is whether agriculture is coming out ahead in this transition of inspection services to
Homeland Security. If it is not, this Committee has a responsibility to the American people to make sure agriculture is fully
Until March 1, 2003, the agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) program was under APHIS. The Homeland Security Act of 2002
transferred that responsibility from APHIS to the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection. The Agriculture
Committee's Investigator, the Government Accountability Office, and the Homeland Security Department's Office of the Inspector
General all introduced testimony based on separate reports they conducted examining the effectiveness of the AQI program since the
transfer and whether it is being prioritized under CBP.
A second panel of witnesses representing states with high volume of fresh crop and horticulture production testified about the
importance of border inspections and the health and economic consequences if foreign pests and diseases escape examination and are
brought into the domestic supply chain.
The opening statements of the witnesses are available on the Committee website at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/index.html.
A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.