Department of Agriculture

Misuse of "High Security" shipping container seals

I highly recommend discontinuing the required use of very expensive "high security" shipping container seals for shipping containers that have completed an "Agriculture" inspection. Prior to the "merger" of the USDA inspectors into Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there were no seals put on containers by Government agents after an agriculture inspection was completed. There was/is no need for it. The containers were simply released to the shipping company and they installed thier own seals. They maintained the responsibility, and liability, for the container, and its' contents. For Agriculture inspections, the government never takes posession of the container. Our seal is not needed. For "Customs" inspections (other than agriculture commodities), the government does take control of the container, and assumes liability. There is a need for high security seals for containers that have been inspected by "Customs" Officers. After an "Agriculture" inspection, the government no longer had an interest in these containers and they were released into commerce. The current method slows down perishable commodities from entering commerce. These container seals are very expensive, and provide no benefit for the Agriculture mission. Also, the extreme amount of manhours used to track, (from cradle to grave) these seals is very expensive. Agriculture Specialists time would be better used providing expediate inspections of perishable commodities. Currently, after an agriculture inspection our high security seals are generally removed by the shipping company, and thrown into a trash can. This effort also creates shortages of "high security" seals for CBP inspections. Alot of manhours are wasted by CBP personnel searching for thier proper seals. Eliminating the mandatory use of these seals will result in zero cost to the Government to implement. It will result in savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, to include the procurement, tracking, etc. of the seals. We could also possibly save millions of dollars in assumed liabilty of the contents of these containers.

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Idea No. 18836