President Trump has signed into law a bill that adds agricultural inspectors and canine teams at border entry points to examine food imports.
The Protecting America’s Food & Agriculture Act authorizes the hiring of 240 agricultural specialists and 200 agricultural technicians (for administrative and support functions) a year until a shortage is filled. Customs and Border Protection estimates there is a shortage of about 700 inspectors in the U.S.
Trump signed the legislation on March 3.
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr., D-Texas, introduced the House version of the bill.
“Michigan’s valuable agricultural industry depends on the safe and secure flow of goods and people through our nation’s border crossings,” Peters said in a news release. “That secure travel is made possible by the hardworking border security professionals charged with safeguarding our state against diseases, pests, and other threats that could devastate our farm economy and compromise the health and safety of millions of Americans.”
The bill authorizes the training and assignment of 20 K-9 teams a year to detect illicit fruits and vegetables entering the U.S.
“We worked across the aisle, through both chambers, to ensure agriculture specialists and technicians at our ports of entry are adequately staffed to carry out critical agriculture quarantine inspections that safeguard America’s agriculture sector from pests and foreign animal diseases,” Vela said in the release. “I know there is more work to be done and we will continue to work to ensure that our ports of entry have the resources they need to maintain and improve the safe flow of goods.”