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U.S. Organic Industry Praises U.S.-Japan Partnership in Organic Trade
U.S. Department of Agriculture  /

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013–Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the United States and Japan formed a partnership that will recognize the two organic programs as equivalent and allow access to each other's markets.

Formal letters creating this partnership were exchanged earlier today in Baltimore, Maryland at Natural Products Expo East, one of the largest trade shows for organic products in the United States. The equivalency arrangement was signed by Anne L. Alonzo, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator; Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator; and Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Director General, Food Safety and Consumer Affairs Bureau.

USDA continues to expand markets for American organic products abroad, works aggressively to break down barriers to trade, and assists U.S. businesses with the resources needed to reach consumers around the world. U.S. organic exports to Japan are currently estimated at $80 million, with growth due to the arrangement expected to reach at least $250 million in 10 years.

Through the National Organic Program, USDA has helped farmers and businesses create an industry that today encompasses over 17,000 organic businesses in the United States alone, and has grown to $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales.

Representatives from the U.S. organic industry—including trade associations and organic producers—praised the U.S.-Japan partnership.

Commerce Initiates an Antidumping Duty Investigation of Imports of Chlorinated Isocyanurates from Japan and a Countervailing Duty Investigation of Imports of Chlorinated Isocyanurates from the People’s Republic of China
International Trade Administration /

9/19/2013 Commerce Initiates an Antidumping Duty Investigation of Imports of Chlorinated Isocyanurates from Japan and a Countervailing Duty Investigation of Imports of Chlorinated Isocyanurates from the People’s Republic of China

Pittsburgh CBP Finds Destructive Pest in Passenger’s Rice
U.S. Customs & Border Protection/

Pittsburgh — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at Pittsburgh International Airport discovered live Khapra beetles and larvae in a bag of rice being carried by a traveler from Saudi Arabia on August 23. The specimens were forwarded to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist who confirmed them as Trogoderma granarium, commonly known as Khapra Beetle, on September 12.

The Khapra Beetle is considered one of the world’s most destructive insect pests of grains, cereals and stored foods and remains the only insect in which CBP takes regulatory action against even while in a dead state.

“Khapra Beetle is one of the most invasive insects CBP agriculture specialists encounter,” said Joseph Klaus CBP Port Director for the Port of Pittsburgh. “And we take our mission to intercept these destructive pests and protecting America’s agricultural industry very seriously.”

The insects were discovered in a 10 pound bag of rice being carried by a passenger originating from Saudi Arabia and arriving from France. CBP seized the rice and forwarded specimens of the Khapra beetles and larvae to a Department of Agriculture entomologist for identification. The remaining rice was destroyed by incineration.

The Khapra Beetle is labeled a ‘dirty feeder’ because it damages more grain than it consumes, and because it contaminates grain with body parts and hairs. These contaminants may cause gastrointestinal irritation in adults and especially sickens infants. Khapra Beetles can also tolerate insecticides and fumigants, and can survive for long periods of time without food.

According to Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, previous infestations of Khapra Beetle have resulted in massive, long term-control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer.

California implemented extensive eradication measures following a Khapra Beetle infestation discovered there in 1953. The effort was deemed successful, but at a cost of approximately $11 million. Calculated in today’s dollars, that would be about $90 million.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Use of Force Reviews, Recommendations and Next Steps
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) uniformed professionals too often face life-threatening confrontations as they secure America’s borders. A critical issue for CBP is determining how best to keep its agents and officers safe when confronted by dangerous situations. It is equally important that the American people have full confidence that our officers and agents use force in a manner consistent with agency policy and law enforcement best practices.

In line with this mission, in October 2012, then Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar directed CBP to undertake a comprehensive review of CBP’s use of force policy and execution. This review process included an internal review by CBP’s Use of Force Policy Division, and an external, independent review by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a non-profit police research organization that provides management services and technical assistance to support law enforcement agencies. Concurrently, while the CBP and PERF reviews were on-going, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General also conducted a review of the CBP use of force program.

The recommendations from these three reviews called for enhancements to use of force training and tactics, additional tools to provide for better analysis of use of force incidents and trends that will better inform policy decisions, a wider array of equipment options be made available to agents and officers, and improvement in particular areas of operational and tactical posture.

CBP has agreed with the spirit and concerns underlying the more than 90 recommendations from the three reviews and is taking steps to implement them, all while considering specific operational concerns, border environment, safety issues, union negotiations, and resource constraints. CBP has already begun making changes in each of four overarching initiatives below.

  • Improve the review and analysis of use of force incidents to understand trends and improve use of force policy, training, tactics, and equipment;
  • Identify additional or alternative weapons and equipment to improve agents’ ability to de-escalate confrontations;
  • Review and enhance current training and tactics and implement necessary reforms to ensure agents and officers are better equipped to assess and respond to threats; and
  • Establish a stakeholder engagement framework to better inform enhancements to CBP’s use of force training.

Under CBP’s use of force program and practices, CBP agents and officers shall use only the force that is objectively reasonable to affect an arrest, while protecting the life of the agent, officer, or others. Excessive force is strictly prohibited. CBP agents and officers may use deadly force only when the agent or officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the agent, officer, or to another person.

Implementation of these recommendations will standardize CBP policies, practices, procedures, reporting, and oversight of the use of force program and its application. Additionally, CBP will continue to evaluate the use of force program and practices to ensure the safety of our law enforcement personnel and the public with whom we interact and protect. Below is a summary of the actions that have already been completed or are underway and will be implemented as a result of these reviews.

Actions Already Completed or Underway:

  • CBP is providing its agents and officers with more options — whether through equipment, training, or tactics — to handle threats along the border and help agents and officers de-escalate confrontations.
  • CBP is implementing an expanded field audit program which will allow CBP to continuously assess the equipment and tactics used by our agents and officers and better determine what changes or additional training is needed.
  • CBP established an on-going dialogue with external stakeholders to better inform improvements to CBP’s use of force training.

Near Term Actions:

  • CBP is updating the CBP Use of Force Policy Handbook to incorporate many review recommendations.
  • CBP is making changes to its tracking systems used to report incidents of uses of force and is implementing an enhanced use of force incident mapping system to provide clearer operational awareness for CBP management. With these technological changes, CBP will be able to identify best practices and better track and analyze use of force incidents, allowing for improved oversight of use of force incidents and enhanced evaluations of the effectiveness of use of force training and policy.
  • CBP is unifying and consolidating all aspects of its use of force reporting, analysis, policy, training, and equipment by establishing the CBP Use of Force Center of Excellence at the Advanced Training Center.
  • CBP is completing a full-scale evaluation and redesign of its basic training curriculum, to further build upon the training, knowledge, and equipment options for agents and officers in order to help officers recognize potentially dangerous situations and take alternative approaches. For example, beginning in fiscal year 2014, the Border Patrol Agent Basic training curriculum will incorporate four additional days of scenario-based use of force training. Also, CBP will provide a more realistic setting by completing construction of international border fence training venues at the Border Patrol Academy and begin similar construction at the Advanced Training Center.

Future Actions:

  • CBP will continue to identify and field test new technology that will help agents and officers address potential threats and de-escalate situations.
  • CBP will continue field testing and purchasing of additional use of force training simulators, in an effort to capitalize and expand training.
  • CBP will pilot the use of video cameras mounted in CBP vehicles and on CBP agents and officers, possibly through lapel cameras, to both reduce the number of incidents when force is used and also protect officers who face false accusations of misconduct.
  • CBP will continue to increase multiple enforcement and de-escalation options for agents and officers and provide additional targeted training.  
    Joint Statement of the U.S.-Iraq Joint Coordination Committee on Services, Technology, Environment and Transportation
    U.S. Department of Transportation /

Iraqi Deputy Minister of Transportation Bangen Rekani and U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs Susan Kurland co-chaired the meeting.  The Iraqi delegation to the meeting included eight representatives from the Ministry of Transportation.  The U.S. delegation included representatives from the Departments of State, Transportation – including the Federal Aviation Administration – Commerce, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration.  This is the first JCC for this sector of the SFA.

The delegations noted the progress made in the transportation sector in Iraq since 2003 and emphasized the importance of continued close cooperation on all modes of transportation.  They reviewed U.S. assistance related to the development of Iraq’s aviation, rail and maritime sectors, and explored opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in Iraq’s transportation infrastructure.  Participants identified ways to expand cooperation and advance the Government of Iraq’s efforts to strengthen safety, security and economic freedom at Iraq’s seaports and airports.

The United States reaffirmed its commitment to continue to provide advice to the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority as it prepares for an audit to be conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2014.  The U.S. pledged to support Iraq as it develops capabilities to conduct adequate communication and navigation surveillance; augment security at seaports and airports; further develop and modernize its aviation infrastructure; and improve its ability to conduct investigations of significant accidents in all modes of transportation-aviation, railroad, highway, and marine.

On the margins of the JCC, the Iraqi delegation conducted site visits of major transportation facilities, including the Port of Baltimore, and participated in a roundtable with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss opportunities for economic cooperation. The Iraqi and U.S. delegations noted the successful delivery last month of the first of 30 Boeing 737-800 aircraft to Iraqi Airways at Baghdad International Airport, which will help Iraqi Airways to reconstitute its fleet and allow it to expand its operations.  They also discussed ways to facilitate the delivery of the remaining aircraft during the period of 2013-2019.

The Iraqi and U.S. delegations agreed to continue discussions of all issues through working groups and hold the next meeting of the STET JCC in Baghdad, at which time participants would plan to discuss ongoing transportation issues and other issues that are the purview of this JCC, to include science, environmental, and strategic water issues.

FMCSA Declares Laredo, Texas, Trucking Company an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety, Orders Shut Down
U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminstration /

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Laredo, Texas-based REDCO Transport, Ltd., USDOT No. 1670585, to immediately cease its trucking operations, declaring the company to be an imminent hazard to public safety. REDCO operates a fleet of 112 trucks transporting general freight.

"It is unacceptable for commercial truck and bus companies to disregard critical safety regulations that serve to protect the motoring public," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Companies that choose to needlessly endanger innocent lives will be blocked from operating on our highways and roads. There is no higher priority than safety."

On Aug. 12, 2013, a truck operated by REDCO crashed into a van stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 20 in Louisiana. Three people, including the truck driver, were killed. Within hours of the crash, FMCSA launched an investigation into REDCO and found the company had routinely failed to ensure its drivers comply with federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigue, including limitations on daily driving and maximum on-duty hours. The investigation further found that REDCO failed to ensure its drivers complied with controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulations, and failed to ensure its drivers were properly qualified. In some instances, drivers were dispatched before federally required pre-employment drug test results were received.

"Blatant disregard of federal rules compromises the safety of every traveler on our roadways," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We will continue our vigorous enforcement efforts and our close collaboration with state and local authorities to further improve roadway safety every day, every mile, everywhere."

Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 10 trucking companies and 25 bus companies. The agency has also declared seven commercial driver's license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.

A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at

CBP Donates Intercepted Corals to National Aquarium
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Baltimore — A shipment of illegally imported corals intercepted by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been donated to the National Aquarium, Baltimore. The corals are being used as educational tools in the Aquarium’s new Blacktip Reef exhibit as well as for the Aquariums’ conservation outreach efforts, school science programs, and fabrication templates.

The shipment, containing 20 pieces of Seriatopora hystrix (or “birds nest coral”) and 22 pieces of Pocillopora damicornis, was intercepted by CBP at the port of Tampa, Fla. The corals were cut from the reefs off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

The shipment entered the port of Tampa for inspection by CBP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result of the inspection, the shipment was seized by CBP for violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Coral reefs are being threatened by human and environmental factors. Most species of coral are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and require foreign CITES permits. This international agreement between governments ensures that international trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. CITES is comprised of 178 country signatories that protect species like coral worldwide.

Corals play a critical role in the ecosystem as they provide nursing habitats for marine species, protect against shoreline erosion and provide local benefits for fishing and tourism industries.

As the nation’s border agency, CBP works closely with Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that laws protecting endangered species are enforced at every U.S. port of entry.
The shipment of ancient corals was seized by CBP last March and donated to the National Aquarium June 25 once the seizure case was forfeited to the government.

National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. It champions environmental initiatives by engaging with visitors, volunteers, education groups and schools to actively participate in the preservation of the world’s natural resources and living-systems. National Aquarium, in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, delivers meaningful experiences through its engaging living collections; science-based education programs and hands-on conservation efforts in the field from the Chesapeake Bay to Costa Rica; and partnerships and alliances with like-minded organizations around the world. For more information on National Aquarium, visit the website.
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