(June 25) Moving the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to the proposed Department of Homeland Security is on a fast track, but some think it doesn’t make sense to railroad the changes through Congress.

Still, Tom Stenzel, president of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Alexandria, Va., said the issue requires attention but has a strong momentum.

“We’re not sure we’ll throw ourselves in front of a train to try to stop it,” he said.

The main concern is that APHIS continues to work well, no matter what department it is in.

But other issues abound. Some wonder whether the Department of Homeland Security will care about the Medfly or dog kennels.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R.-Kan., said he is not in favor of the reorganization.

An anonymous source close to the House Agriculture Committee said the process of writing legislation to move APHIS could happen quickly — likely in the next several weeks. That might leave little time for hearings to gather industry input on the issue.

Some of the potential concerns for the industry are how the priorities of APHIS inspectors will change if they also are charged for looking for nuclear bombs in addition to bugs on palm plants, the source said. He said issues of political turf and government unions are taking a back seat to real concerns on how the reorganization would work.

One of the concerns of lawmakers, he said, is to ask the right questions about the reorganization without appearing to be working against domestic security.

President Bush’s plan calls for the U.S. Customs Service (in the Department of the Treasury), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (in the Department of Justice), APHIS (in the U.S. Department of Agriculture), the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration (both in the Department of Transportation) to be moved to the new department.