I have been sitting at my machine for some time attempting to write this page, but I find my disappointment, frustration, anger to be almost insurmountable and likely to get in the way of my objectivity. I pride myself on being objective in my writings, but recent regulation changes to the importation of bees into the continental USA has made that very difficult.
Approximately 15 years of hard work to achieve a reputation for quality, service and delivery down the drain. I refer to the recent new legislation from the USDA, Federal Registry Volume 69, Number 203, dated 21st October 2004.
While not an outright ban, which would be contrary to the WTO and NAFTA agreements, this legislation is so draconian in conception to make it difficult if not impossible for small/average queen breeders to comply with. If as I suspect, it is more about trade protectionism, then this document has been extremely well crafted.
A brief overview might be helpful.
Each shipment to the US has to be accompanied by a health certificate, the inspection to produce the certificate to be no more than 10 days before shipment. So a weekly shipment, as in our case, will necessitate weekly inspections of our yards, and each shipment has to be accompanied by invoices and export/health certificates.
The package has to be sent through a recognized port of entry to enable each and every shipment to be inspected by an APHIS inspector, recently changed to Home Land Security, if the shipping method does not meet with his approval, then it can be destroyed at the shippers expense!
The importer now has to apply, in plenty of time, for an import license, to the appropriate authority. Then the necessary parts of the legislation has to be initialed and returned to the authority for onward transmission to the port of entry, in time to meet the shipment. Stating all relevant information regarding who, where and when.
I will agree, each point is not insurmountable, but can you imagine the paper trail necessary to send a single queen to a beekeeper in Ohio? At the same time I very much doubt whether that same beekeeper would even make the effort! As I stated earlier, this legislation is extremely well crafted and is just another nail in the coffin of ‘free trade’.
The legislation comes at a time when the border has been opened to allow US queens into Canada, but these restrictions are considerably tougher than the equivalent legislation out of Canada. It would appear the legislation is crafted on flawed data and needs reconsideration.
After a great deal of searching I have been informed the problem has been created by the insistence of the Australians that the border should also be opened to both them and New Zealand, this now allows the USDA to lump Canada in with them in forming the latest regulations. The main area of concern, the Canadians would be buying queens from Aus and NZ and exporting them to the US, from experience this is highly unlikely.
I do not want to get involved in rhetoric regarding keeping the border open, just to say, in my opinion, it is a retrograde step by the industry and while I do not agree with ‘tit for tat’ action regarding trade it is extremely tempting for our bureaucrats to retaliate. If this is the treatment to a ‘friendly neighbor‘ then God help your enemies.
Now comes the uncomfortable area. We have to cancel all queens currently on order and there are a number of you on our files, refund all monies held in trust, and finally apologize for any inconvenience created to us, because of the action of the US government.
If you agree with this position I would encourage each and everyone of you to get involved, write to your congressman, protest at the injustice being totally un-necessary, it is your livelihood which is at stake.