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US proposes $2 cruise passenger fee for agriculture inspection

US proposes $2 cruise passenger fee for agriculture inspection
The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is proposing fee changes for agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) at US ports of entry. For passengers on international cruises, there would be a $2 fee per person.

The AQI program protects US agriculture and the environment from invasive plant and animal pests and diseases.

Currently, there is no user fee for international cruise passengers.

Fees also would go up for commercial aircraft, cargo ships and trucks.

International air passengers now pay $5; that would go down to $4, however the commercial aircraft fee would more than triple, to $225. The charge for cargo ships would go from $496 to $825. The commercial cargo railcar fee would be reduced from $7.75 to $2.

There would also be a new fee of $375, should a treatment be required.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said revenue from fees charged has been insufficient to cover costs, compelling the Department of Homeland Security to use funds that should be available to other security functions and initiatives.

APHIS arrived at the suggested changes in a review by an independent accounting firm that conducted an audit to determine what it actually costs to deliver AQI services.

Comments on the proposed rule about AQI user fee adjustments are being accepted here through June 24. The comments will be reviewed as APHIS develops its final rule.