New regulations at the Port of Newark-New York requiring agricultural inspections on imports to be conducted at stations off the port have slowed some produce shipments, but some produce shippers are hopeful the delays will be resolved as kinks are worked out of the new Customs and Border Protection procedures.
One aspect of the new rules that is not expected to improve are the increased costs to have loads taken to the inspection sites and the inspection fees, which range from $400 to $800 depending on the shipment involved.
Fraymil Rodriguez, an operations associate at Exp Group LLC, north Bergen, J.J., said March 2 that the delays are much less than during the first couple of weeks of January. He said the added costs haven’t been as much of a burden as originally anticipated, but the delays are just as damaging.
“When they are dealing with perishables they should be making things faster and easier, not slower,” Rodriguez said.
Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Trucking Association, is very familiar with the flow of cargo through the Newark side of the port. She said 85% of all of the freight that comes through the Newark-New York port goes through the Jersey side.
“The New York side is mostly cruise ships,” Toth said March 5.
“They wanted to fix the problem of having too few inspection agents so they set up the centralized examination stations,” Toth said. “The problem now is that the three stations have been overloaded. They are aware of the problems that the delays are causing and they say they are working on the problem.”
Doug Stoiber, vice president of produce transportation operations for L&M Transportation Services, Raleigh, N.C., said LMTS does have regular fruit business come through the port, but it is not a major portion of its business.
“Our dispatcher has noticed that there seems to be a day’s delay in getting loads from the boats that come into port on Mondays,” Stoiber said. “Prior to January, he generally got loads on Mondays for boats hitting the same day, but now almost all of the loads are tendered for Tuesdays.”
Despite the delays, Stoiber said the dispatcher had not had complaints from the importer.