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Highlights

U.S. agriculture generates over $1 trillion in economic activity annually, but concerns exist about its vulnerability to foreign pests and diseases. Under the agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) program, passengers and cargo are inspected at U.S. ports of entry to intercept prohibited material and pests. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred responsibility for inspections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP). APHIS retained some AQI-related responsibilities, such as policy setting and training. This testimony is based on issued GAO reports and discusses (1) steps DHS and USDA took that were intended to strengthen the AQI program, (2) views of agriculture specialists of their work experiences since the transfer, and (3) management problems. As part of these reports, GAO surveyed a representative sample of agriculture specialists on their work experiences, analyzed inspection and interception data, and interviewed agency officials.

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