Goodlatte Inspects Port Facilities with Regard to Agricultural Concerns

Feb 27, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C: - Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who also serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, is part of a bipartisan delegation which today reviewed crucial homeland security issues, among them port security, during a visit to Miami, Florida.

The congressional delegation reviewed the security enhancements built into passenger screening at the Miami International Airport, including an overview of airport and air cargo security. The delegation also toured the terminal at the Port of Miami, where Chairman Goodlatte discussed implementation of the Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program following the transfer of this critical port security function to the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“An increase in global trade has presented new risks to US plant and animal health protection efforts. Without an effective system in place to protect America's animal and plant resources from agricultural pests and diseases, threats to our food supply and to our nation's economy would be enormous,” Goodlatte said.

Pest exclusion is the core of America's agricultural safeguarding system. The efficacy of agricultural inspections at points of entry is critical to the continued viability of the country’s domestic agricultural sector.

“Given the impact agriculture has on our nation’s economy, the Department of Homeland Security must ensure their core mission includes agricultural protection,” Goodlatte continued. “DHS is faced with a difficult task of establishing a new mindset for inspections which must blend the core missions of agricultural inspectors, customs inspectors and immigration inspectors. While the jury is still out on how well this new border inspection program will work in the long run, so far I am encouraged by efforts to expand the areas in which inspections are made for agricultural products which may contain invasive plants or animals, diseases or other pests.

“I am concerned that the efforts to recruit experienced biologists and other specialists need to be stepped up to ensure that the APHIS expertise, which has now been transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, is not lost and that inspectors who have the triple responsibility for immigration, customs and agricultural inspections, have sufficient agricultural inspection training,” Goodlatte concluded.