TSA budgetCongress offers relief to Washington State cherries growers

Published 5 June 2009

Congressional mandate, going into effect last Monday, requiring 100 percent screening of cargo on passenger planes, threated Washington State cherries grower; Congress offers growers relief

A relief for Washington State cherries grower. Legislation increasing the number of canine teams searching air cargo passed the House of Representatives the other day, helping ensure perishable produce such as cherries will not be delayed in shipment, according to Representative Doc Hastings’s (R-Washington) office. Hastings wrote the amendment that passed as part of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) bill.

Starting next year, cherries, apples, asparagus, and other produce transported on passenger airplanes will need to be screened before shipment, according to a law passed in August 2007. The 9/11 Act already mandates that 50 percent of air cargo on passenger flights be screened through the Certified Cargo Screening Program.

Tricity Herald’s Ingrid Stegemoeller reports that local growers are concerned the screening requirements will cause harmful delays to crops being shipped by passenger airplanes, Hastings’s office said.

Cherries and other perishable fruits have a limited shelf-life and must be transported quickly from the family farm to the grocery store shelf. If there are not enough canine cargo screening teams available during the peak harvest period our local growers and agriculture based economy will suffer,” Hastings said.

The amendment increases the number of canine teams by 100 or more, which doubles the dogs available to screen at airports. Dogs have been screening cargo at airports since 1973, according to Hastings’ office. The amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas).