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Abstract

Millions of pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, herbs, and other agricultural and food products enter the United States via commercial shipments from other countries every year. Although these items appear harmless, there could be hidden threats in that baggage and in those truckloads, trainloads, and containers of fresh and processed food items that could seriously threaten U.S. agriculture, its natural resources, and its economy (U.S. Customs and Border Protection 2007). Food imports play a major role in the success and competitiveness of various agribusiness firms in the United States. For example, food imports generate income, employment, output, and taxes and provide consumers with lower-priced products than those produced or purchased in the domestic markets. Food imports also provide consumers with a larger variety of products that normally would not be available to them, or that would be available in limited quantities and at higher than normal prices. Consequently, without food imports many U.S. food processing and manufacturing firms would be forced to reduce plant capacity, re-locate food processing and manufacturing facilities, or close plants altogether (Rosson 2000). Thus it is important that food imports that do not comply with U.S. standards be targeted, detected, and intercepted, thereby preventing the entry of those potential threats before they have the chance to do any harm to the U.S food system and its infrastructure.

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