President Trump signs bill to add CBP ag specialists to ports

On March 3 President Trump signed legislation that will help increase the ranks of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) agriculture specialists and technicians to step up protection for America’s farming and forestry industries against the introduction of destructive pests and diseases.

The legislation, 2019 Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act (S. 2107), authorizes CBP to hire and train 240 new agriculture specialists annually for the next three fiscal years.

The agency is also authorized to hire 200 new agriculture technicians, as well as 20 agriculture canine teams, each fiscal year over the same period.

Specifically, the legislation provides $29.9 million for fiscal year 2020 to hire the first 240 CBP agriculture specialists, followed by $36.1 million and $40.5 million, respectively, for fiscal years 2021 and 2022. For CBP’s new agriculture technician hires, the legislation provides $11 million, $25 million, and $38 million, respectively, over the next three fiscal years. 

The agriculture canine team budget includes $3.5 million, $7.4 million and $12.2 million, respectively, for fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022.

In addition, the legislation includes $6 million annually for training of these new CBP agriculture specialists, technicians and canine teams.

In January, a group of more than 80 trade associations representing the agricultural products industry lobbied the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the Protecting America’s Food and Agriculture Act to boost the presence of CBP’s agriculture specialist at the nation’s ports of entry.

According to CBP’s Agriculture Specialist Resource Allocation Model (AgRAM), the agency requires an additional 721 agriculture specialists to efficiently oversee the agricultural trade entering and exiting the U.S.