US Department of Agriculture withdraws inspection fee increase

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) withdrew the recently-published interim rule to increase the fees charged for certain agricultural quarantine and inspection services on international airline passengers.

The rule, which was scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2009, would have imposed a fee increase on international airline passengers and air carriers.

The fees would have increased from the current US$5 for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) charges to each international airline passenger to US$5.50. Each commercial aircraft would have been charged US$77.83, up from $70.75. Fees for surface transit inspections also would have risen.

Fifty cents here and few dollars there may not appear too substantial, however, according to the USDA, this increase would have raised an additional US$40 million annually from passengers and US$7 million annually from air carriers – above and beyond the US$480 million annually currently collected from passengers and carriers.