Inspections under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s VACIS program have been delayed as inspectors work through a backlog, Will Cavan, executive director of the International Pineapple Organization, said in a blog post on the organization’s website.
Pineapples and other commodities have sat at the port for more than two weeks, in some cases, waiting for inspections, Cavan said.
“Poor planning and understaffing at the USDA is causing a major headache for the pineapple industry,” Cavan said. “Perishable containers are sitting at the port for days and weeks, basically destroying the contents inside.”
After fruit is finally inspected, some containers are so moldy, fruit needs to be thrown away.
“The negligent behavior on the part of USDA and (the Department of Homeland Security) is unacceptable, and a prompt solution to this injurious scenario must be corrected immediately.”
Workabeba Yigzaw, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said Aug. 19 that USDA and DHS Customs and Border Protection officials were in the process of analyzing the claims.
“APHIS and CBP are currently working closely with the pineapple industry to address their concerns while continuing to protect American agriculture.”