The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made permanent an interim rule that charges fees to fund inspections at the U.S.-Canada border.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved the proposal with a final rule March 9, with only minor changes. Trucks crossing from Canada to the U.S. still must pay $5.25 per visit, or $105 per year.

Through the interim rule, established in 2006, about $89 million was raised by user fees in 2008, according to the March 9 ruling. Boats, trains, planes and air passengers crossing from Canada into the U.S. also must pay fees.

The fees help pay for 136 full-time inspectors at border crossings and 65 at seven Canadian airports.

The rule was established after border inspections found, according to the March 9 ruling, “an increasing number of interceptions on the U.S./Canada border of prohibited material that originated in Canada and countries other than Canada that presents a high risk of introducing plant pests or animal diseases into the U.S.” 

The final rule makes only three changes to the interim rule, said Alyn Kiel, an APHIS spokeswoman. Now exempt from paying user fees are:

  • railroad cars, when the train originates and terminates in Canada, no passengers embark or disembark and no cargo is loaded or unloaded in the U.S.;
  • vessels traveling to Canada only to refuel; and
  • barges that carry bulk cargo originating only in the U.S. or Canada and that don’t carry plants or plant products, animals or animal products, or soil or quarry products from areas in Canada regulated for gypsy moth