(Sept. 27) Starting Nov. 24, Canadian shippers exporting to the U.S. will get a reminder that there’s no such thing as a free ride.

In late August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed removing an exemption for inspection and user fees for Canadian agricultural products entering the U.S.

All ground, air and ocean shipments will be subject to per-crossing fees when the rule becomes active Nov. 24. Shippers using trucks have the option to purchase per-truck annually renewable decals.

The proposed cost for trucks is $5.25 per crossing or $105 annually. Rail shipments will cost $7.50 per crossing in 2006 and will increase to $7.75 in 2007.

Air shipments per crossing will be $70.25 in 2006 and $70.50 in 2007. Ocean vessels will be charged $488 per crossing in 2006 and $490 in 2007.

Melissa O’Dell, public affairs specialist for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said there are no exceptions to the new rule.

“The mode of transportation could harbor pests, not just the shipment it is carrying,” O’Dell said.

According to the new rule, the USDA is taking this action because it is not recovering the cost of current inspection activities at the U.S./Canada border and because of an increasing number of interceptions of prohibited material that originated in origins other than Canada.

“The fees will enable APHIS and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection to recover agricultural quarantine costs and expand inspection activities along the U.S./Canada border,” O’Dell said.

The possibility that border crossings could be delayed has the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Ottawa, concerned, said Heather Holland, senior technical manager, food safety and government relations.

“This is our primary concern,” Holland said. “It is our understanding that there will be an implementation period and that there will be new inspectors trained and available at border crossings to handle the proposed increased frequency of inspections of fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada.”

More frequent inspections are likely, O’Dell said, but are not expected to cause traffic problems on the border.

“Delays should not be an issue due to the additional inspectors and resources to conduct inspections,” she said.