Congressman Critical Of Ag Inspections

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 4, 2007

Merced Congressman Dennis Cardoza says the federal Department of Homeland Security is doing a bad job of stopping pests from entering San Francisco International Airport.

"The Dixon problem could very well have come in through that port of entry."

The Democrat points to a new report by the US Government Accountability Office. It says inspection rates at airports in San Francisco and other cities declined significantly after Homeland Security took over inspections from the Department of Agriculture four years ago.

Lisa Shames with the GAO says the transfer led to some management problems. But she says Homeland Security is taking steps to turn that around, including expanding training for their agricultural inspectors.   

"The other positive step that was taken is that the agriculture specialists now have access to computerized and classified data basis to help them target the high risk shipments that come in."  

No one from Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection department was available to comment before our deadline.

In Washington next month, the House Agriculture and Homeland Security committees are scheduled to hold a joint hearing on solutions to improve agricultural inspections.