Fees levied against every rail car and truck that crosses from Canada to the US are designed to offset the cost of agricultural safety inspections to head off introduction into the US of plant diseases and animal pests. Undersecretary of Agriculture Bruce Knight and APHIS officials said that they would consider exemptions but would not delay the June 1, 2007 launch of the fees.
Members of the American Trucking Associations, Canadian National Railroad, National Industrial Transportation League, and the US Chamber of Commerce met with Knight in mid-May to discuss the potential impact of the fees and to discuss possible exemptions. Knight and the other officials said they were willing to work with the industry groups to find reasonable approaches to help mitigate some of the costs, provided the industry groups could offer sound reasoning on why certain commodities or conveyances should be excluded. The industry groups are arguing that certain shipments have no exposure to agricultural goods and, therefore, pose little threat for plant disease or animal pests. Those shipments should not pay the same fee as commodities with an inherent risk, say the industry groups.
No timetable was given for consideration of the exemptions, and the industry groups will continue to develop their argument.