The job of keeping harmful substances and items out of the U.S. is not easy. Especially, as we are battling the threats of foreign animal diseases, the need for qualified inspectors at our borders is great. Last year, a bill was introduced to help fund the increase of inspectors needed. Now, that funding is a reality.
Ag inspection teams have been in high demand for a while. Funding has been the biggest obstacle to getting more trained teams in place. It was almost a year ago when almost one million pounds of Chinese pork was seized at the border. This comes at a time when African Swine Fever is having disastrous effects on the Chinese hog population. If that disease were to get to the United States, it would have a catastrophic outcome for us as well.
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) is the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He introduced the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act of 2019. It was to help address the 700-person shortfall of Ag inspectors needed at our borders. It received unanimous support in the Senate.
The bill still must get through the House of Representatives. While it isn’t what Senator Peters envisioned when he put the bill forward, it is still a step in the right direction. Some funding has already been secured in the budget for the year.
With the passage of the bill, Peters is expecting the positions to get filled quickly.