House of Representatives Clears Bill Boosting Ag Specialists at Borders

Clint Thompson Legislative

FDA inspector at work in this 2016 file photo.

On Feb. 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would address the shortage of agricultural specialists and inspectors at U.S. ports of entry. According to Customs and Border Patrol estimates, there is currently a shortage of nearly 700 inspectors across the country. The Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and passed in October 2019. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature into law.

The Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019 would authorize the annual hiring of 240 agricultural specialists until the workforce shortage is filled, as well as 200 additional dedicated agricultural technicians for administrative and support roles. The bill further authorizes the training and assignment of 20 new canine teams per year.

American Seed Trade Association recognizes the need for additional agricultural inspectors and is a strong proponent of this legislation. The association signed onto a letter of support with 156 other agricultural organizations, urging the House to pass the bill as quickly as possible. The letter can be found on the ASTA website.

American Seed Trade Association