Wartime security steps in the offing are not limited to those that fall under Operation Liberty Shield's banner. The FDA and members of the U.S. Congress have proposed additional rules and legislation that would have serious effects on transportation and distribution.
For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a regulation that would directly affect food importers, requiring U.S.purchasers or U.S.importers to submit to FDA prior notice of the importation of food. The rule was proposed to fill requirements in the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which requires prior notification of imported food to begin by Dec. 12, 2003. Lacking a rulemaking, the law calls for advance notice of no more than five days and no less than eight hours.
The key features of this proposed rule, according to an analysis by the National Industrial Transportation League, are that a food purchaser or importer who resides or maintains a place of business in the United States is generally responsible for submitting the notice. The notice must be submitted by noon of the calendar day before the day of arrival. Importers could amend information under specified circumstances.Updates about arrival information are required if plans change.
The rule calls for submitting the information electronically through the Prior Notice System. Required information includes a U.S. Customs identification number; FDA product code; the common or usual name or market name; the trade or brand name; the quantity described from the smallest package size to largest container; the lot or code numbers or other identifier; as well as arrival information, information related to U.S. Customs' entry process, the importer, the owner, and the consignee and the carrier.
In the meantime, three bills have been introduced in Congress that bear watching as well. The NITL reports that new transportation legislation introduced in the Senate would affect all cargo entering the United States or cargo moving in int rastate or interstate commerce as well as air cargo moving in passenger and all-cargo aircraft.
A bill introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) (S. 208) would make the Department of Homeland Security responsible for the random screening of at least 5 percent of cargo at airports and other transportation facilities; an authentication policy to assure the identification of shippers; regular audits of shippers, freight forwarders, air carriers and others; and, development of a training program for entities that handle cargo.
Another bill, this one introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), would require the DOT to screen, inspector otherwise insure the security of all cargo transported in both passenger and all-cargo aircraft. The legislation, S.165, would mandate regular inspections of shipping facilities that a reengaged in the shipment of air cargo.
Finally, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has introduced legislation that would earmark funds for border and transportation security personnel and technology. S. 539 , the Border Infrastructure and Technology Modernization Act, would provide $500 million from fiscal years 2004-2008 to reduce backlogs of traffic at border crossings. The bill would pay for border infrastructure and technology upgrades and for training personnel. It would also provide for developing a plan to expand the size and scope of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) programs along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.