Effective Dec. 29, the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is significantly increasing many of the fees charged, and adding two new fees, for conducting agricultural quarantine and inspection services at U.S. ports of entry. APHIS said the higher fees are needed to meet program costs that have skyrocketed along with international cargo and passenger traffic, but affected industry members have expressed concern at the size of the increases and their effects on commerce and consumers.

APHIS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection work together to carry out AQI program activities to intercept foreign animal and plant pests before they can enter the country. APHIS tracks emerging and new pest situations around the world; assesses and analyzes pest risks and pest movements in trade; develops and applies methods to reduce pest risk and movement in trade; develops passenger and cargo targeting, sampling and inspection protocols; inspects live plant shipments; and monitors and stops illegal movements of agricultural goods in foreign commerce. CBP conducts pre-arrival analysis, targeting, selectivity and examination of international passengers’ baggage, commercial commodities, containers, commercial vessels, trucks, aircraft and railcars at U.S. ports of entry to determine compliance and entry status using APHIS’ regulatory protocols.

This final rule lowers AQI fees for inspections of international air passengers (from $5 to $3.96 per passenger) and railroad cars (from $7.75 to $2 per car).

However, most AQI fees are being increased, including fees for inspections of commercial aircraft (from $70.75 to $225 per aircraft), commercial maritime cargo vessels (from $496 to $825 per vessel), commercial trucks with a transponder (from $105 to $301.67 a year) and commercial trucks without a transponder (from $5.25 to $7.55 per crossing). APHIS is also adding a $1.75 per passenger fee for inspecting cruise vessels and passenger baggage.

APHIS is also adding a $237 fee (down from the $375 it had proposed) on each importer of a consignment of articles that require treatment upon arrival from a place outside the U.S. customs territory, either as a preassigned condition of entry or as a remedial measure ordered following inspection. This fee, which will be charged on a per-treatment basis, will be phased in as follows: $47 in the first year, $95 in the second year, $142 in the third year, $190 in the fourth year, and $237 in the fifth year.

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